Garden Update


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I thought I would give an update on our garden. All of the plants are certainly growing, but I’m not getting very many veggies from them yet. We get two or three cherry tomatoes everyday, but we eat those before we get back to the house. The cilantro came and went quickly. In fact, the plant actually went to seed within a few weeks. Our other herbs  (basil, oregano, and sage) are still coming in strong. I think something is eating the squash, eggplant, and pepper blooms. I’ll see a bloom on them one day, and the next day it is gone. I’m not sure what to do about that. I think it may be my bunny rabbit friends. Next year, my garden needs a redo. It definitely needs fresh soil and maybe even a small fence to keep the bunnies out. I have some pinterest research to do!


Violin Lessons

I’m excited and nervous about Ruby Kate starting violin lessons. I’m excited because it’s such a fun instrument, and it’s a great hobby for her. I’m nervous because she is so young. I fear that starting her out so young will burn her out on it. I hope this isn’t the case, and instead her young mind enjoys and easily grasps reading music and playing the instrument. Fingers crossed!

We found a great violin teacher who is a graduate student at the University of Tennessee. Not only is she an experienced violinist, but she’s also a member of a blues rock band. Pretty cool. She is patient, kind, and fun. Everything is working well right now. Hopefully this will continue. Ruby Kate has lessons twice a week for 20 minutes at a time. Her teacher recommended these shorter lessons due to her age and attention span. One of our first assignments was to assemble a box violin from a macaroni box and some general craft supplies. After searching the internet, I found this tutorial to be the most helpful in completing this task.

Now isn’t this the cutest violinist you have ever seen?



French Press


While Ruby Kate & I were in Hilton Head with my family, we ate at Red Fish one night. We decided to order the fresh, french pressed coffee with our desserts. Oh my. I see french presses everywhere, but I never realized I was missing out on such a great thing. First of all, these little coffee miracles are so cute and come in a variety of bright, spunky colors. Secondly, you can buy them anywhere. I mean anywhere. I even saw them in the airport the other day. Thirdly, they don’t take up much counter space and are very easy to clean. Fourthly, they are cheap, $20 in fact. And finally, the coffee is incredible. I have been making coffee in my percolator for years. And I still use it from time to time. Mostly though, I am using the Bodum french press in lime green. If you are new to french press, it’s definitely worth your time to watch this video from Alton Brown teaching you how to achieve the perfect brew. I think I’ll go brew a cup now!

Best 4th of July Sales

Another bonus to being home for a few days is that I was able to take full advantage of the great 4th of July weekend sales. Here are some of my favorites.

Persnickety is one of my favorite children’s clothing brands. They are having a great 50% off sale right now on the spring collections. The designs are so fresh, unique, and the quality is great. I love that many of their items are not really seasonal, and Ruby is able to wear them all year-long.


Ruum is a children’s clothing store that was previously owned by American Eagle Outfitters. They were acquired by another company earlier this year. They sell casual, play clothes that are very hip. I ordered Ruby Kate several items for this year and in bigger sizes for next year at unbelievably low prices. They have an additional 50% off sale, and if it’s your first time ordering, you get an additional 10% off.


Hanna Andersson makes great summer dresses for little girls. The quality is great, and they always have bright, summer colors. I ordered Ruby Kate a couple of dresses for this summer and for next during their 4th of July sale event.


Tea Collection is another great company for quality, hip play clothes for kids. They are having an additional 40% off sale right now.


J. McLaughlin has a preppy, casual look for women. I am a big fan of their dresses. They are having a great summer sale right now.


Tory Burch is having a 50% off sale. It also doesn’t hurt that they sent me a $50 gift card for my birthday!! Because of her birthday kindness, I like to refer to her as Aunt Tory :).


Fourth of July

Summer is flying by as I suspected it would. We have had quite the travel agenda this summer. It started with a quick trip to Mexico for my friend, Marci’s wedding. Then Ruby & I went to HIlton Head for a few days with my family. After that, we headed to San Diego for vacation with David’s parents. Needless to say, it was nice to be home for a few days to celebrate the 4th of July.

We started out the day at our favorite breakfast spot, Gourmet’s market. I had the red, white and blue pancakes – strawberry, white chocolate, and blueberries!

After breakfast we spent some time outside watching Ruby ride her tricycle. She’s getting a lot better at that. She also did a little tree climbing.


While outside, David decided to give his new toy a try. He worked so hard. I can’t believe how much better the wall next to our house looks.


We headed back inside and managed a few projects before nap time. Ruby created some 4th of July art . Our new craft medium of choice is pom-poms. We love gluing those to paper. Our glue of choice is glitter glue :).

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We found some gluten free cupcake mixes at Williams Sonoma earlier in the week, so Ruby and I tried one. We made the vanilla and topped them with chocolate and cotton candy frosting. They weren’t bad for being gluten free. 



 After Ruby’s nap, we went to see Monster’s University. She is a movie lover, but she got a little scared this time. We stayed for a little over half of the film and then had to leave. I’m hoping she does better with Despicable Me.


We rounded out the night at Bonefish for dinner and then home for Ruby’s bedtime. It was a nice, fun holiday. Happy 4th of July!!

Things I’m loving from Trader Joe’s

We love shopping at our new Knoxville Trader Joe’s. They have great food, but let’s be honest. Ruby Kate is obsessed with the child size shopping carts. She is so preoccupied with pushing that cart around that for me, shopping becomes a breeze. So here are a few items I am loving at Trader Joe’s right now.

Mini Ice Cream Cones – perfect for those little girl hands and appetite. And they are so tasty.


Tuscan Italian Dressing – my favorite salad dressing right now. It has the perfect amount of balsamic.


Organic Midnight Moo – Chocolate Sauce similar to Hershey. The taste isn’t even comparable. Hershey needs to go back to the drawing board.


Parmesan Reggiano – Something about this cheese is just perfect on a salad with the Tuscan Italian Dressing above.


Last day of school

I really struggled with sending Ruby Kate to preschool for the 2012/2013 school year. She attended on Tuesdays and Thursdays. There were days that she didn’t want to go, and days I didn’t want to send her. She went, and in the end I’m so glad she did. We formed so many new friendships this year. She talks about her sweet classmates all the time. I love to see her little social skills developing and growing daily. Turns out, preschool was good for both of us. Here are some of our pics from the last day of school.


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BKR Bottle


I purchased a BKR bottle in January. I’m not a huge water bottle person. I don’t feel the need to carry a bottle everywhere I go. BKR has changed my ways. I love my BKR bottle. I have now purchased two of these little gems. I have one in purple and one in pink.  They are glass (no bpa), easy to carry, easy to drink from, and adorable. I can fill my bottle up 4 times a day and know that I’ve met my necessary 2 liters of water intake. They are a little pricey at $28 a bottle, but definitely worth the splurge.

Tea Rex


Ruby Kate is somewhat fascinated with the dinosaur from Toy Story called Rex. She tells me that when Rex roars, it really scares Daddy, and she thinks that is funny. She is also fascinated with tea parties right now. Several times a week we end up on the back deck with a pitcher of water and paper cups. She fills the cups with “tea” and serves them to her many guests at the tea party (Minnie Mouse, Buzz Lightyear, baby doll, Woody, etc). When I saw this new book on Amazon called Tea Rex, I had to check it out. By the way, I am addicted to searching for great children’s books on Amazon. You never know what kids will like either. If I love it, chances are, she won’t. Turns out she loves this book. It’s so cute. The book describes how to host a tea party. The guest of honor at this tea party is a T-Rex dinosaur. The illustrations all include some humorous piece of information not included in the narrative. I love this style because it challenges the child to ask questions about the illustrations. There is one page that she always points out and requests that I describe the pictures. We read this book every single day, so I’d say it’s a keeper!


Weekend Recap

Mother’s Day weekend has always been a busy weekend for us but even more so now that I’m a mommy too. We had my in-laws over on Friday night for dinner. We celebrated Mother’s Day brunch for me on Saturday, and then we visited my mother on Sunday. Whew. I’m tired just thinking about it all again.

On Friday, I was in search of a nice table centerpiece for the dinner with my in-laws. I noticed while outside that my knock out roses are starting to bloom. I’ve never really been good at arranging knock outs. I tend to cut the stems too short. Well, I tried to cut these longer, and then I found a lovely milk glass vase (coincidentally gifted to me by my mother-in-law) to arrange them.


For dessert on Friday night, we had coconut cream pie. Coconut cream pie is a favorite in our family, and it’s a staple in the spring and summer months. I have made this particular recipe about 5 times now, and I think it’s a keeper. This is actually Martha Stewart’s Banana Cream Pie recipe. I omit the bananas and add 1 cup of coconut and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. For the crust, I have found a wonderful gluten free frozen pie crust at Earthfare by a company called Wholly Wholesome. I strongly recommend it. The homemade whipped cream is a must for this pie. When I took the picture below, I hadn’t whipped the cream yet.


On Saturday, we went to Gourmet’s Market for brunch. Unfortunately they didn’t have my favorite white chocolate pancakes (sigh). I survived though with some yummy french toast. After brunch, we had some time to kill before swim lessons. I’ve been hearing about an animal park in Strawberry Plains called Circle G Ranch. It’s basically a drive thru zoo. We drove there and were shocked at how many animals live there – over 500 to be exact. Even more shocking was how tame the animals were. We rolled our windows down to enjoy the view, and the animals approached our car and stuck their heads right in. Honestly, it scared me at first. I just wasn’t expecting it. The animals were not aggressive, just very comfortable with people. There were a couple of rogue Ostrich that wouldn’t leave us alone, but other than that, no incidents. Ruby Kate has continued to talk about Circle G Ranch. Here are some of my close-ups.

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We ended the weekend with a delicious strawberry cake from Litton’s. Now, I have no idea how I’m going to refrain from eating 3 pieces a day for the rest of the week!