Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Recent Beauty Buys

In the summertime, I generally keep my hair and make-up routine minimal, but I have found a few products lately that I have been loving and I thought I would share with y'all.

First up is an eye shadow palate that I'm loving. I have the Lorac Pro and the Naked 2 palates and really love both of them, but thought the price point was great on Tarte Sex Kitten palate, so I picked it up from Ulta and am really liking the colors.

If you sign up for Ebates before ordering from Ulta, you can earn cash back. I think I got 6% cash back when I ordered mine.

Next up is hair. While mine isn't naturally curly, it's prone to horrible flyaways right now as I'm dealing with regrowth from all the hair that fell out after I had Carter. Any given day I fix my hair, it looks like I stuck my finger in an electric socket after being out in this Southern heat and humidity for ten minutes. I decided to try this anti-frizz weightless styling spray from Living Proof, also from Ulta.


It worked really well for me. I can't say that it would be as effective on naturally curly hair since mine isn't, but it helped tame my flyaways, even in this crazy humid weather we're in the throes of currently.


Moving on to lips. This Glo Minerals suede matte crayon in color Sorbet is such a fun punch of color for summer. I like to use this color when keeping the rest of my make-up pretty simple so that the bold lip color is the star of the show. I found that this wore well for me and stayed put for the better part of about three hours before I removed my makeup for the evening.


Sticking with lip color, but this time a bit more neutral, I picked up Bare Minerals radiant lipstick in color Heaven. I really love this color for everyday use. It's pretty and neutral and I'd think flattering on most complexions. I purchased from Sephora (which is currently 4% cashback from Ebates).

Last up is a new brush I picked up. I'm slowly phasing in new make-up brushes since I'm pretty sure the last time I purchased a new one, I was still a freshman in college. I got the Bobbi Brown eye shadow brush.  The reviews on this were great, and given the length of time I use my brushes, I feel like I got a really good one, I'm pleased with it and would definitely recommend it.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Fresh from the Garden

There are few things that make me more proud than being able to walk into our back yard and pick fresh veggies we've grown in our garden. I know exactly what has, or more accurately what hasn't gone into the food we're growing and even though our raised garden bed is smaller, it's produced lots of fresh food for us in the last few years since Juston built it.  

I thought I'd start a new series of posts over the next few weeks about preparing fresh foods, either from your own garden or your local farmer's market. The first vegetable I'm going to post about it probably my favorite of the summer because of it's versatility; tomatoes. 

Below, I'm sharing four of my favorite ways to prepare fresh tomatoes. Mine aren't quite ripe for picking right now, so these came from our local farmer's market and they were delicious! So here goes, four ways with tomatoes, starting with a breakfast option.

Breakfast option: Pimento cheese and tomato english muffin

This is one of my favorite breakfast options in the summertime and it's so simple and quick. You need the following:

Whole grain English muffin, two slices tomato, pimento cheese (I use Palmetto Cheese brand), bacon, salt and pepper.

Start by halving the muffin and placing a slice of tomato on each half. Salt and pepper the tomato slices!



Next, spread the pimento cheese over the tomato. Place in oven on low broil until the cheese starts to bubble and melt. 

It should come out of the oven looking like what's pictured below


I top with crumbled bacon and serve. You could use Bacon Bits if you don't have bacon on hand, but it's not as good. 


Lunch Option: BLT with Avocado. 

I haven't prepared one of these this week, so this photo isn't mine. Mine does not turn out nearly as pretty. 


You'll need the following:
whole grain bread (2-3 slices depending on how many layers you want your sandwich to be), 3 slices cooked bacon, sliced tomato, green leaf lettuce, sliced avocado, (Duke's) mayonnaise, salt and pepper. 

You can toast the bread for this sandwich, but a lot of times, I skip that step. I put mayo on both pieces of bread, then place tomato on top of that. Salt and pepper the tomato next to flavor it. Next, layer on the avocado slices, followed by the lettuce, then bacon. If we're feeling wild, we'll repeat these steps for another layer to the sandwich. 


Appetizer Option: Caprese Salad


I typically prefer to serve this when we have company over and line a whole platter like you see above, but I had a hankering for it mid-week this week, so this was my supper one night. 

You'll need the following:
tomato, fresh mozzarella, basil leaves, salt, pepper, olive oil, balsamic vinegar. 

Slice your tomatoes and cheese. Salt and pepper the tomato slices (the salt will draw out some moisture from the tomato, so you may want to do this on a seperate plate and let sit for a few minutes before serving up on a platter. 

Start with a tomato slice, then layer mozzarella followed by the bay leaves. Repeat these steps until you've used all of those ingredients. Then mix olive oil and balsamic vinegar and pour over top tomato layers. I just sort of eyeball the olive oil mixture, but I do about 2 parts oil to one part vinegar. 



Supper Option: Tomato Pie




I posted this recipe originally a few years ago, and it hasn't changed since. You can click here to find the recipe for tomato pie. It does not disappoint. What's you favorite way to do tomatoes in the summer?


Thursday, July 13, 2017

Lately

If I could have it be summer all year long, I swear I'd do it! I just love it so much and so do my babies. We've been trying to make the most of ours by doing lots of swimming, swinging, water balloons, travelings and anything else outside. 
The kids and I have been trying to split our time between home and Elizabethtown where Juston is during the week. Our house down there still has no kitchen, (hopefully, it'll be done in two weeks), but the kids still manage to have fun. Something about a big open space with very little furniture is so appealing to kids. They can basically run wild without worrying about running into anything or something breaking. We're still not sure when we'll get our furniture moved down there. Our house here still hasn't sold and we're still renovating, so we're not in much of a hurry. 

How sweet is this picture of the kids?! Caroline was sitting in her camping chair "reading" a book and when Carter noticed, he backed up to her and she hoisted him into her lap and read to him...for the thirty seconds he's willing to sit still. She's just the best big sister to him. She probably has more patience than I do most days haha. 




I'm pretty sure that Carter is going to be carrying his wubbanub when he heads off to college. I haven't tried very hard to break him of it, but he's made it clear that even if I did it would be an exercise in futility. He usually only gets it at naptime and bedtime and I'll hide it once he's up, but occasionally he finds "Wubby" out in the wild and gets SO excited when he does. 


Most days, one or two of my sisters kids will end up coming to the house with us and spending some time. This week, Camden and Caroline picked out some rocks while we were at the park. They brought them home and painted them and are going to choose a place around town to hide them. It's part of something that kids in this and surrounding communities have been doing this summer and it seemed like something they'd enjoy. Camden painted her's Harry Potter and Caroline did a rainbow. 


How does she look a solid seven years old here! I can't get over the fact that in less than a month, my baby girl will be five. It's just crazy how time flies when you sleep-deprived, exhausted and having the time of your life. 


Carter loved the park when we went the other morning. It's just a few blocks from my parents house where we stay a lot during the week so we went as soon as the kids got up and dressed that morning. He was fascinated watching all the barges make their way up the river. 

Be sure to check back here tomorrow, because I'm going to be sharing some of my favorite ways to dress up garden tomatoes this time of year! So far, I've only harvested green beans and cucumbers from my garden, but the tomatoes are coming along great and should be ready in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, I've been getting mine from the farmer's market.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Recent Reads

I've finally had a chance to pick up a couple of the books in the last few weeks that I've been excited to read. I thought I'd share some vague thoughts on them and included links in the event that you'd want to read themselves. These are Amazon affiliate links. Anytime I buy books, I buy them used and have never had an issue with quality buying this way. It also saves a ton of money. 


The Guests on South Battery is the fifth book in Karen White's Tradd Street series and I have to say, it's probably my least favorite of the series. It took me a while to get into it and I just wasn't as crazy about it. I've really liked every other book in this series, which chronicles Melanie and Jack Trenholm's adventures helping ghosts solve mysteries and crossover. I generally love story lines that involve supernatural occurances. The reasons I didn't like this one as much as the others is mainly the way the main character Melanie is portrayed. Honestly, she got on my nerves in this book and I feel like her behaviors were over-exaggerated and not very believable. I'm still glad I read the book, and will read any others that may follow in this series as Karen White is one of my favorite authors. The book is well written, as are all of hers I've read, it just wasn't easy for me to get into it. I'm glad I read it, but if I'd read this one alone, I probably wouldn't want to read any others in the series (which I love as a whole). 



This book by Kim Gatlin was made into a series for television a few years ago. does anyone else remember it? I watched (and loved) it because it had Kristen Chenowith and I just thought the concept was funny. The show was canceled after one season if I remember correctly. Well, I just recently picked up the book from Amazon and read it while I was on vacation. It was better than I'd anticipated it to be and I would definitely recommend it. The title may be a bit off-putting to some, but after reading the book, you understand it completely. I always try never to reveal too much of the plot lines when I post about books, but I really did like this one. It follows the journey of the main character, Amanda Vaughn, as she moves back to her hometown in Texas after a messy divorce. Without giving too much away, the people who she thinks are her friends are working behind the scenes to ruin her. We've all known people like that so I'd say lots of ladies can relate to this book. In short, I'd recommend it. 

Currently reading...


I just started this book over the weekend and I have been stealing every chance I get to read another chapter. I'm only about a quarter of the way into it, but I'm LOVING it so far. Thus far, the story is about three sisters returning to their mother's home to live with her for an indefinite time period. Each one is returning under different circumstances; one as a result of a cheating spouse, one whose husband is deployed with the military and one to film a movie in the area. I read Lies and Other Acts of Love by this same author a few months ago and knew I wanted to read anything else she put out because I loved that book. I'll be sure to report back here once I finish this one to let y'all know what I think.

Next up to be ordered and hopefully read this summer is Beach House for Rent by Mary Alice Monroe and Same Beach, Next Year by Dorthea Benton Frank. Has anyone read these yet? What are your thoughts? And what is everyone else reading right now?


Monday, July 10, 2017

Wilmington

When I was fixing to graduate from college, I was a lover of Nicholas Sparks books and a lover of fitness. I know that sounds totally random, but bare with me, I swear there's a point here.  I'd already been working as a personal trainer for about a year at a gym in Northern Kentucky where I was going to school and wanted to continue to pursue a career in the health and fitness industry, so when it came time to apply for jobs, I was applying for gyms all over the North Carolina coast, primarily in Morehead City, New Bern, the Outer Banks and Wilmington. If you've read Nicholas Sparks, you know his books primarily take place in North Carolina. So to spite never having been to any of these places, I was more than ready to up and move. I'd done phone interviews with quite a few places and had a few offers for jobs when a full time position came open as the Fitness Director at the YMCA in my hometown. I applied for it, too and since there were benefits and retirement involved, I figured I'd start out there and then transfer to a Y in North Carolina. I ended up meeting Juston through working at the Y and the rest is history, I suppose. 

I still have it in our five-ten year plan to end up living in North Carolina. I'd love to raise our kids there because everyplace we've ever been there, we've loved and met so many great people. I also feel like much of the entire state is really conducive to getting outdoors a lot. Anyway, the whole point of all that backstory is that while we were in Topsail Beach, I decided to do a day trip to Wilmington with Caroline, my mom and my niece. It did not disappoint and it has moved into the top five places I'd like to move now. We saw some absolutely stunning homes while we were there. One thing we also did was google the addresses for the houses used in the filming of One Tree Hill, one of my all time favorite shows. So here you go, so of the gorgeous homes we saw on our trip. 






And for any fellow One Tree Hill fans, here are some places you just might recognize.


Hey Brooke Davis (my favorite), you still behind that red door? The neighborhood this home was located in was unbelievable gorgeous. Every home was prettier than the next. 


Home of Lucas (Karen) Scott above. It's so cute in person. The pic I snapped stopped at a stop sign doesn't do it justice. 


And finally, Dan and Deb (Nathan) Scott's place from the early seasons. We also found the old location of Karen's Cafe and the bridge from the opening credits. Apparently (and sadly), the River Court is no longer around. We had a fun little trip and I'm hoping we'll find our way back really soon. 

Thursday, July 6, 2017

En Route to my Mailbox

I took advantage of some great 4th of July sales this week to snag a few things I've had my eye on for a while now. I've been on a kick of finding fun earrings lately and I added a few to the collection this week. 

These adorable yellow Kate Spade earrings are out of stock everyplace I checked to try and link them. I managed to get the last pair from Shopbop (at least according to the site; it was probably just a marketing ploy). I can't wait to get these in! I'm hoping they'll be light weight, but they are so fun for summer and I love a good statement piece of jewelry. These definitely fit the bill. 


Speaking of fun statement pieces, how about these Ginger earrings from Lisi Lerch. I have a few other pairs from Lisi and I managed to get these during their flash sale a few days ago. I ordered the clip on version so they won't pull on my ears. There are lots of color options in this style. 


How fun are these Twine and Twig bracelets? These were also on sale. They have a fun boho vibe that I'm feeling for summer. They'll go great with the Mara Hoffman dress I also got on sale during their annual summer sale. The dress is pictured below.



I wasn't sure on sizing with this one, but read that it runs pretty large, so I ordered the 2, which I am NOT a size 2 so we'll see if it works or now. I'd normally get a 4, but was told to order a size down. I'm not sure if I can pull off the midi length, but I'm going to give it a shot!




Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Kitchen Progress Update

Our new (to us) house in Elizabethtown is coming right along thanks to Juston; I'm making all the requests adn design choices and he's doing all the work. The kitchen is currently mid-renovation, so I thought I'd post a little update to share. Below are some pictures of the kitchen from the original listing when we bought the house. Don't be fooled; it looks really great in the pictures, but when we actually got in the kitchen and looked more closely, someone had put lipstick on a pig. The granite counters were nice, but the cabinets were original to the house (built in 1990), in really rough shape and had been painted very poorly. There were visible paint runs and they just weren't what they look like in the listing pictures. 





Since those pictures, Juston has removed ALL of the cabinets, taken down the backsplash, replaced the flooring that was under the island since we're turning it a different way. The original linoleum flooring was under the cabinets when he tore them out, so he had to take some of the new flooring out of what was the master closet (more on that transformation to come), to patch in where the island was. I have a lot more pictures than what I'm sharing today, but I don't want to bore you.  

Here are a few pictures of the current state of the kitchen. We are saving a fortune since Juston is doing all of the work himself, but it's also moving slower since he only has time to work on it after he's worked all day already, bless his heart. I'm not much help since I always have the kids with me and they don't allow for me to accomplish much in the way of home improvements, so we've just stayed out of the way aside from making design decisions. 


This wall where the kitchen was will become a butler's pantry of sorts and will add a ton of storage space. We're moving the fridge to another wall where the stove once was. I really wanted to take the cabinets all the way to the ceiling since the ceilings aren't very tall on the first floor, so Juston removed the soffit that was there, and naturally that couldn't just be simple. He ran into a plumbing issue with a drain coming down from the kids bathroom upstairs, as well as some copper water lines inside those soffits. After consulting with a plumber, he was able to move it all up into the ceiling himself so that we can forge ahead. 


We are keeping the sink in the same spot under the window. He did discover some mold where the sink is when the drywall was removed. Apparently, it had leaked at some point and the previous owners had just painted over the evidence of the leak instead of fixing it. So insulation, plastic and drywall has since been replaced here. 


Our stove will be going in the center of the wall above instead of the small cooktop that occupied the island before. The new island is going to have a step down and tons of prep space as well as a spot to put barstools and eat. I feel like the new layout will be so much more conducive to our lives and will really improve the overall flow of the kitchen. 

Our new cabinets have arrived and Juston is working on getting those installed this week, then the granite company will be coming back to measure for our countertops. I selected the middle option pictured below; it's a quartz. I really loved the darkest options as well, but Juston couldn't get on board with the dark countertops and what he feels are dark floors. I think it would have balanced out nicely with the white cabinets and a bright backsplash, but I loved all three of the pictured options, so I was good with whichever he chose. 



We went with a shaker cabinet, the top stone you see pictured on it below and I'm still trying to decide which backsplash option I want to do. I'm torn between a classic white subway tile, the greenish/gray subway tile below or maybe an arabesque tile. 



This is a really fun process from my perspective, but I'm sure poor Juston would disagree. Once the kitchen is completed, we're selecting a move-in date for the kids, myself and the majority of our belongings. We're going to wait to renovate the upstairs bathrooms until we're moved in and until our house in Maysville sells. We're also tackling tons of other small and some not-so-small projects inside and outside that I'll share here as we get to them.

As far as the materials that were in the kitchen, we're also finishing the basement and Juston wants a wet bar, so we're using the best of the cabinets that came out of the kitchen as well as having the granite re-cut to fit that layout. We're using the rest of that granite and putting it in the mudroom in place of the white laminate counters that are there now. I'm so excited to see it all come together and will do a reveal post here once it's all ready to show. Hope everyone had a great 4th of July!

Monday, July 3, 2017

Topsail Beach, NC Family Vacation

We are still trying to figure out how our last week at the beach went by so much quicker than any other week?! I swear, everytime I'm at the beach, I have to seriously ask myself why I don't live on the coast. I don't really have a good answer. I'd love to raise my kids in a small coastal town where every day could be an outdoor adventure...except the hurricane days I suppose. 

Anyway, I thought I'd do a quick recap of our family vacation to Topsail Beach. We left last Friday afternoon and stayed the night in Chapel Hill, just to break the drive up for the kids, then Saturday, after a quick pitstop in Beaufort, NC, we headed on down to North Topsail Beach and our house for the week. IT was our little family, my sister's family and my parents all sharing a house, and while it can get crazy and loud at times (mostly thanks to my kids), we love the family time so much. 





We've staying in Outer Banks a few times, as well as Beaufort (NC), but this was our first time staying at North Topsail Beach. I really liked the beach itself; the water was pretty calm, but there was still enough wave action for the kids to boogie board, there were plenty of cool shells to be found, and there were not many people at all since we were staying in a neighborhood of homes instead of a condo stip (I'm looking at your Myrtle Beach).  We were right next to Surf City, which is where we had to go to get groceries, gas, find restaurants, shops, etc. and the drive was only about five-ten minutes. 

Carter woke up bright and early every single day of vacation. He normally gets up around eight, maybe a little before. Well, he was up by 6:15 am every day for some reason. I think it was because he was in the room with us and could hear us moving around, etc. but, it wasn't that bad because it gave me an excuse to get up and run most mornings we were there. Am I the only person who gets to the beach and thinks, "I'd be in such great shape if I lived here."? I'd have no problem motivating myself to run if I could do it on the beach every morning. 



I didn't manage to take very many good pictures. I remembered to take my good camera, which is rare, but I forgot the charger for it. That is such a typical Jena move, I have to say ha. Most mornings, Caroline and I would head to the beach after breakfast and play for a bit, then hit the pool after that until lunch time. We brought Carter to the beach for about 30 minutes to an hour every day. The first day, he was not about the sand at all, but liked the water. Well, that didn't last long. By the second day taking him to the beach, he was all over it! Eating sand, picking up shells, running as fast as his little legs would take him into the waves. It was adorable. Both of my babies love the beach, so that means Juston is now seriously outnumbered. He loves to fish, but doesn't love the beach so much. 

We tried to take some family photos on the beach Wednesday evening and failed miserably. I had a feeling Carter wasn't going to be cooperative and I was completely accurate. He screamed anytime someone tried to hold him for a picture and just wanted to roll around in the sand, eating it occasionally. We didn't get a single good picture with him in it. There are some memorable shots though, I'll give him that. 



We only went out to eat one night, to Sears Landing, and it okay, but nothing special that I'd go out of my way to visit again. It was right on the water, so the scenery was pretty. I think I'm just spoiled from doing most of my restaurant eating in Charleston so often. Nothing else really measures up. Juston took Caroline and went with my sister's family our last nigth to go putt-putting and she's the only one to get a hole in one!  

We had a great week with the whole family, but it went by too fast for my liking. 




Our next trip on the agenda is Greenville, SC (Suggestions welcome as it's our first time visiting) and then Charleston for our ten year anniversary!