What About Me? – Update
How is everyone doing? The state the world is in is very scary and something none of us have ever experienced in our lifetime. We are in unprecedented territory and I wanted to check in and see if any of you are feeling the same way.
The last blog post about me (I wrote with disdain at prompting from my kids), I shared a little about myself and the current journey I am on. I’ve recently taken more time to check in with myself and take care of myself. Go here to get the beginning of the journey.
Checking in with you all now really comes from the unsettled feeling I have with the state we are all in with this COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. Our lives have halted, been turned upside down, and I feel are generally just uncomfortable right now. By uncomfortable I mean scared, different, and we all seem to be creating a new normal. Not all of this is bad. The perfect example for me is of course all of my kids are home, grounded if you will. Well, they are all adults so they are not literally grounded, but they know the importance of staying in place to help stop the spread of this horrific virus. While the day in and day out of staying put has us all on edge from time to time, we really are making the best use of our time together and I am extremely thankful.
To be completely honest, with my daily routines being thrown into a tailspin, some days I feel the wheels are completely off the bus with my daily self care routines! I haven’t been wearing makeup (good for the skin!), so I have told myself I do not need to clean my face as often. LIES! I have not been going out of the house for work (my full timejob), or to do much else… therefore, I haven’t gotten up, dressed, done my hair and makeup… you know, typical fails. Why? Why do I do this when I know and have stressed the importance (to myself and everyone else) of maintaining your daily routines with no exceptions? If I’m not careful, I will fall into the same life I was living when the kids were younger.
Going forward it’s business as usual, so to speak. Although I haven’t completely let my routines go, I WILL be getting back to them. For instance, today as I am writing this, I did all of my normal morning self care, self reflection, I did my hair and make-up and got dressed before work. Ok, I didn’t get too crazy, I have joggers on, but the rest of me is business as usual! Lol!
While we are all adjusting to a new temporary normal, keeping up with those small comforts of routines and practices (at least for me) will help with the changes. Once we come out the other side of this pandemic, things most likely will never go back to “normal”, whatever that was like before. But that’s ok, because we can create our new “normal”. We have more time now than ever to reflect on exactly what we want out of life. What we want for our futures. How we want to proceed with our lives when social distancing will no longer be the norm. If there are any positives that come out of this dark time we are currently in, I hope and pray that we can find a way to come together and end the hate that has been growing and spreading in the world. Lofty goals, I know… but if we set our minds to it, we can achieve anything! Even our daily routines 😉
Have a lovely day,
DIY-No Sew Easter Baskets
So every year I think I will find the perfect Easter Baskets, and every year I am not happy with the ones I settle on… I know, super dumb – 1st world problems. My girls and I brainstormed about what we could do this year without going to the store OR spending any money. Megan explains below what we ended up doing. Another crafty bonding – quarantine project with my kids! I love it!
Note: They aren’t perfect, but they are perfect for what we wanted. They were 100% free, using items we had already in the house and just something fun we could do to stay busy and let creativity flow!
Want or need new Easter baskets, but can’t get to the store due to the quarantine? Us, too. So, we decided to try our hand at making some homemade ones. We just used materials we already had lying around the house so we also spent $0!
What will you need? We used some cardboard boxes for the base, cardstock for the walls, and covered them with batting and fabric to make them pretty and customized for each person. In addition to this, we used packing tape, scissors, a bowl, wire hangers, and lots of hot glue so we didn’t have to do any sewing.
First, we cut circles of cardboard using our bowl to get the size we wanted for the bottom of the baskets. Next, we glued fabric to the bottom of the cardboard, covered the top with batting, and then covered the top with fabric.
For the wall, we cut cardstock in half “like a hot dog bun” (or long-ways) and taped enough pieces together to wrap all the way around our base. After getting the right length, we glued strips of batting to what would be the inside of the basket wall and then covered the wall with the fabric we chose for that specific basket. We then carefully glued the wall to the base and folded and overlapped the fabric at the seam for a clean line.
Lastly, we cut and used half of a wire hanger for the handle (of course you can use as much or as little as you would like in order to get the length you want). We covered the wire with fabric by basically folding and gluing the fabric around the wire until it looked like a roll. For some of our baskets we decided to get fancy and roll two more pieces of fabric without wire and “braided” them around the handle, gluing as we went, to make the handle look loosely braided.
To finish off the look, we glued the ends of the handle to the inside wall of the basket and covered them with squares of fabric to match the wall. (If you chose a patterned fabric for the wall then it’s a little more difficult to line up the design perfectly, but is super satisfying when you get it to look right!)
We hope you’ve been creating and making memories too during this quarantine time! We always say it’s the little things that make the big memories!
Have a lovely day!
Coffee Crawl – Bonaventure Coffee
“Magic happens when you and I share a lot – over a cup of coffee”
Anyone else feel this way? There’s just something about a good cup of coffee and good conversation. And we. are. here. for. it! This is how the Coffee Crawl got started in the first place!
This edition of Coffee Crawl takes us to a cute little drive thru coffee place. This was the perfect spot as it was a dreary and rainy day in the STL.
Bonaventure Coffee is a husband and wife owned drive up/thru coffee place in the Brentwood area of St. Louis. The owner, Becca, named the coffee house after the B-24 Liberator her grandfather piloted during WWII. See more of Bonaventure’s story here.
As we pulled in we both were excited to see that it was the cutest little building with windows on both sides for convenience! Pulling up to the window, we saw the simple menu. Short, sweet, and to the point. They offer coffee (of course), teas, shakes, and smoothies. The day we went they had so many specials to choose from! So of course never having been there, we told the lady when we pulled up that we were ‘first timers’ so we would need a minute to figure out what we wanted. She was so super friendly and helpful. She explained their specials and told us they usually don’t have that many at one time, but always have the ingredients to make any of them (except the seasonal ones like pumpkin, of course) even if they aren’t advertised. All you have to do is ask.
Megan settled on a chocolate coffee shake. Black coffee is usually her ‘go-to’ because it’s just her comfort zone due to her nut allergy. The worker set her mind at ease about the ingredients in her shake. No nut contamination! I also chose a coffee shake, however mine was caramel. It was really good! Not too sweet, with just the right amount of caramel and the coffee taste was perfect.
The barista was very quick and attentive with our order. She was super friendly and seemed to genuinely enjoy working there and sharing with us all about Bonaventure. Not only were our coffee shakes delicious, their menu items are very affordable! We highly recommend if you are in the Brentwood area, stop by and experience for yourself!
Spend Local and Support Small Business! They are the backbones of our communities.
We will definitely be back!
Have a lovely day!
Fashion Finds – A Walmart Easter
As a preface, I would like to say hello and welcome to our first fashion finds blog post! My name is Mallory I am the 3rd and probably most fun and/or important child. 😉 It has been a process to get this going with me being away at college, but with the new developments I will be home for the semester. In case you are under all the toilet paper, we are currently in a global pandemic with COVID-19 (coronavirus). So my semester as been cut short but will be completed in an online format, but hey, at least I will be in the comfort of my own home. Our weekends are spent out and about running errands, but most importantly shopping or looking, whatever the bank account allows. We have found many things we want to share with all of you, but Easter is right around the corner so this seems to be the most logical place to start.
On our most recent trip we accidentally found my Easter Sunday Outfit. We were looking around the clothing department at good ole Walmart and I saw a pair of paper bag pants, and they were to die for. They are full length with a tie belt around the waist. They are a very light cream with no yellowy undertone and have slate blue stripes down them. I found a white ribbed turtle neck tank that, in my opinion, looks so good with them. I have TONS of shoes, so mom said we probably did not have to look for those. The shoes that I will be wearing I have had for around 2 years now and are a Payless find :(. They are super cute heels but are not too high that I will be uncomfortable all day. I am super excited to wear the outfit for this occasion, but it includes staples pieces that are great to add to my wardrobe. Best of all, being Walmart, everything is a super affordable price. I feel that Walmart’s game has recently stepped up with the quality of their clothes which now actually last longer than one wear. The paper bag pants were a whopping $18.87, the ribbed turtle neck tank was $5.95, and my super cute heels were $25 (again *sad* the shoes are old from Payless, I really miss that store).
On the complete opposite end of the wardrobe spectrum my sister Megan, the sibling behind the ‘Coffee Crawl’, found an outfit for herself as well. Her style is VERY different from mine, but she’s still cute in her own way ;). She found the CUTEST flare jeans, that I will be stealing, in black denim. The absolute best part about these jeans, other than the adorable fit, is that they were a clearance find for only $3! She got a long sleeve button up shirt, which is a light weight material, and has a tie at the waist to be cinched. Her shirt was also a clearance find for only $7. Megan is the epitome of a bargain shopper to say the least! Her shoes are also a Payless find :(. She found these on clearance, shocker, about a year ago for only $13.
We are excited to get to show case our outfits this Easter (providing we are out of quarantine by then) and we hope this has helped give you some ideas and show you that you can/will look great and grow your wardrobe on a budget!
That’s all for now, but we will be back;)
Burger Bounce – Stacked STL
Stacked STL lives in an area that represents the truest duality of man. The restaurant itself is setup nicely on the side of a street opposite some lovely shrubs, a fountain, and a statue of… someone. The surrounding houses are slightly worse for wear with more furniture on the lawn than in the den. Of course, this doesn’t come from a place of judgement and rather one of awe.
Stepping inside Stacked doesn’t betray this feeling either, as looking at the decor and overall setup allows thoughts to flood your mind as you attempt to piece together what it is you’re looking at. In lieu of a theme or gimmick, Stacked has a random assortment of ideas that make up its make-up. Excellently hand-painted pictures of farm animals hang on some of the walls. The tables are topped with literal door panel long pressed between panes of glass. The chairs are honestly terrible, though. Much to small for the average person to sit, and really could only be comfortable to an individual the size of a Smurf or a… sea Smurf. The ones with the straws on their heads? Uh… SNORK! Snork size, we’ll say. So, I guess they sort of do have a schtick: homemade and crafted, possibly even with some help from the community. I’m not sure if the person who painted those animals works at Stacked or is merely a nearby resident, but regardless it does add to the charm.
A bar is also present fully stocked with a tremendous amount of alcohol and a variety of chalkboard signs hanging above it, dictating various types of special and menu items, as well as a sort of FAQ with things that are commonly asked at Stacked. Unfortunately, none of the answers to these questions are written on the board, so it’s kind of mocking anyone that asks those questions by teasing them with the possibility of an answer. This is something that I greatly enjoy.
The strangest aspect of the place that I can think of is that our initially placement was at a table stationed right in front of the door. And when I say in front, I mean directly in front of the door to open, as there is no lobby to this establishment. And with the current temperature and windy conditions that come with the winter season, we almost immediately asked if we could move to another table, as there were plenty open. And granted, they obliged quickly. However the next individuals to come in once that table was open we’re also seated in front of the door. I don’t recall whether or not they ended up staying. Was this a game? Was there a pool in the back of the restaurant for how long any given party could withstand the numbing cold of their front entrance? Did they laugh? I can only hope.
But now, of course, the most important part of Stacked: how was the food? I didn’t go for the ambiance, as appealing as all of the crazy crap littering the walls was. We go to these restaurants because we want to eat. That’s why there aren’t scary singing animatronic mice and filthy play-pits at the Olive Garden. Though, that being said, we certainly going to the Olive Garden for the food, so maybe those things could only help.
Anyhow, we’ll start off the food talk with the appetizer we had brought in. These being 4 pretzel sticks and two types of dipping sauce: beer cheese and spicy beer mustard. Now, I’m not a big pretzel fan, I just see it as bread and salt, and while both of those things are nothing to scoff at what’s stopping me from dumping salt into a bag of Wonder Bread and shaking it up? Jests aside, that’s where the dipping sauces come in, as they can always be used to improve the situation. The cheese there isn’t much to say about. I love cheese of most every kind, and the beer cheese given to me did it’s job well enough. The mustard was another story. I both loved and loathed simultaneously, as the spice provided was welcomed heartily. However, the aftertaste and reintroduction of the spice in my throat nearly choked me twice. Perhaps I had too much, but I couldn’t just let it sit there unconsumed. I knew you’d understand.
The burger itself was something special, as I was directly responsible for its creation. You see, you can get a sandwich that they have listed in their menu already predetermined OR you could construct your own burger from the ground beef up. It’s like Build-a-Bear with all of the trimmings and none of the stuffings. I took it upon myself to take my favorite elements of every sandwich and put them together, while still making it unique enough to make building my own worthwhile. Most have ketchup and mustard, so I used BBQ. I added two of my favorite cheeses, Pepperjack for a peppery flavor and Cheddar for a cheddary flavor. I put it on a between two pieces of Texas Toast (which honestly is just garlic bread without the garlic, come on), and I added both pickles and fried pickles. And all was good. It was tasty, and this is one of those restaurants that gives you a lot of burger when you order it. Given the pre-meal pretzels, I was worried I wouldn’t finish it, but it was so good that perhaps I ate more than I should’ve at the moment and I did end up finishing it. Truly, it was a great burger, and I got to have a hand it’s inception so is there really anything else I could’ve asked for? Well, a lot according to the sheet, but I’ll save that for another day. Mom’s meal here…
I loved the fact that you can build your own burger. I chose a pretzel bun (no surprise to those that know me), with lettuce, pub cheddar, bbq sauce and crispy onions. I also had french fries for my side. This burger, while simple considering all the topping choices, was soooo good! The beef had a great flavor, the pretzel bun was just about perfect (IMO), and for me anything with crispy onions AND bbq sauce is a win! The french fries were good. I added salt and ketchup, but no funky after taste or taste of stale cooking oil. I will definitely go back to Stacked STL. The only thing better than the burger was the company I was with ! Cheesy I know… but true!
Until next time, lovelies!
What About Me?
So there’s lots of new faces around here. I’ve been encourage to do an “Introduction to me” post.
Here’s the problem I’ve always had with that… who am I?
If I don’t know, how can I share with others?
I start talking about myself and end up talking about my kids every time. Why? Because they ARE my life. They are grown, and still they are my life. However, I’ve begun my own journey in the last couple of years. So maybe I do know a little more about myself that I thought. Let’s see.
I always wanted to be a stay at home mom. Not to “not work”, but to cultivate the relationships, bonds, and lives of my kids. I truly feel it’s one of the MOST important jobs we are to EVER do. We are raising those that will run this world. Take care of this earth. Raise their own some day. They not only need to be taught how to live and survive and right from wrong, they need to be taught how to relate to others. To care for others. To love others.
Now that my children are grown, I’m on a journey to rediscover myself. You always hear about parents making their kids a priority over themselves and who they are, but you never truly understand until you are in that position. And that’s exactly what I did.
So who am I???
For now, let’s start on the surface:
I love music! All kinds of music!
I have a handful of favorite tv shows. Friends is definitely at the top of the list. Right up there with it is One a Tree Hill & Charmed. I like so many different genres and many other shows, but those are definitely at the top for me. One of my childhood favorites was Wonder Woman. The original. Wonder Woman. Like the Lynda Carter version. There will never (for me) be another Wonder Woman like her.
I love to cook for my family. Well, when I’m feeling it. The day to day rigor of – work, come home, fix dinner, work some more, head to bed – gets to me often and I just don’t feel like it. But when I have time and am in the mood, I love it!
I love, love, love to read!
Fun fact : I own every Nora Roberts book she’s written under her given name. I love her writing style and the way she develops her characters and their relationships. You truly feel like you’re a part of the story.
I’ve also been making small strides to get back to caring for myself:
I’ve recently increased my water intake to 1/2 my body weight in ounces/day. Currently (as I’m writing this post) I am on day 60! I definitely see some differences in the way my body feels.
I’ve also developed routines for each morning and each evening. (I’ll elaborate on those in another post) Before I would clean my face when I felt like it, or take my vitamins when I remember, but developing these morning/evening routines have been a huge factor in my development of self care. My youngest, Mallory, took a course in school where she learned all about deficiencies and tried to help me figure out what was the most important for me to take lol. I’ve also had a doctor’s input in that area.
I want to evolve my self care to accomplish a more healthy lifestyle. And I’ve made moves toward this. I stretch every morning and every night, Megan even gave me some suggestions for this one – being a dance instructor and all. Stretching is so important for our bodies.
When I started this journey of rediscovering myself and taking care of myself, my kids were (and are) all onboard. My son, Jacob, has even talked with me about the importance of this for me. They are seriously my biggest cheerleaders and it’s really great to experience. It makes me realize just how wonderful they’ve become and how “worth it” it really was to stay at home and raise them because we were able to build lasting bonds that go both ways.
This is (and I am) definitely a work in progress.
In order to be fully transparent, this whole post has been a struggle for me. Nudges from each of my kids have pushed me to hit the publish button. It has always been very easy for me to show love to others. To pour time and energy into others. But it’s not been as easy to do that for myself. I’m always evolving and self care is getting easier and easier. Showing myself love in that way is becoming more natural for me. However, talking about it, sharing things about myself is never easy. The tightening in my chest and procrastination was all too real with this post. I’m pretty much an open book. I will share just about anything with anyone. But writing about myself just feels so vulnerable.
I hope you stick around each week for the fun posts, but also check back in because I will be updating my progress on this self care, self discovery journey I’m on.
Until next time…
Busy or Productive – Which One Are You?
Don’t be busy. Be productive.
Have you heard this before?
This was always me! So much of my life was me thinking I had to be busy. Something always had to be going on for me to feel accomplished. I’m not sure if it was mom guilt, SAHM guilt, or something else; but the older I get and the older my kids get, the more I realize what it is to be truly productive!
You see, once upon a time when my kids were young, I did (or tried to do) all the things. I always said yes! I was a room mom. I was in their school’s parent organization, in fact I ran in for quite a few years. It was a full time volunteer gig. I sold candles on nights and weekends to bring in a little extra money so I wouldn’t feel ‘as quilty’ for being a SAHM. (that’s a whole other post idea). I was there every second for my kids and their activities, but what I realize now is that I didn’t need all that “busy” to be making the impact I wanted to on my kids’ lives.
Was I there for them when they were sick? Yes.
Did I make sure they were clean, clothed, fed? Yes.
Did I spend quality time with them regularly? Yes. All the time, actually.
Then all of those other things I felt I needed to say yes to were just noise. It’s ok that I did that, I enjoyed most of what I did, but what were my reasons for doing all the extra crazy busy things? If I could tell my 20-something self one thing it would be to slow down. Enjoy the time and be intentional with what you choose to say yes to. It truly does go by way too fast and being unnecessarily busy makes it go by even faster!
I would also tell my younger self that routines help create room for more time! I truly believe this! And in the extra time I’ve given myself through the routines I’ve created… the time I have for myself is most cherished. Look for that in another post coming soon 😉
I tend to be more intentional with how I spend my time now. Accomplishing tasks that move the needle forward in life, in business. Cutting out all the extra bluster and focusing on what I want, what I need, what my family needs… that’s the ticket. I can be there for others while being there for myself.
At least for me, busy creates chaos. Sure, there are still times when the chaos creeps in, that’s life.
Busy is multitasking, while productivity is focus.
Busy is telling everyone what little time you have, while productivity is making time for what is truly important.
I’m still working on this. It’s a process to progress, but priorities, intentionality, and focus are my guide.
Are you truly productive? Or are you just busy?
Coffee Crawl – Toasted Coffee House
Welcome to our first Coffee Crawl blog post! Each morning my oldest daughter, Megan, and I start our day with coffee and each other. We often talk about trying out the local coffee shops, and since it’s something we like to do together, we decided to turn it into our adventure! Spending time with each of my kiddos and doing things that interest them is precious to me. Check out the Burger Bounce with my son, and coming soon will be Fashion Finds with my youngest. But you are here for the Coffee Crawl with myself and Megan! Read on for her recap of our time at our first stop!
One of the constants throughout my day is coffee. Time is treasured by me, and I find that when I miss my morning coffee talks with my mom, my day feels off. She’s the first person I talk to everyday, typically. Usually this time consists of us making coffee at home and chatting about what is happening in our lives or meeting to talk over logistics for Bits of Love Creation’s latest projects.
We’ve decided to take our coffee time on the road! Visiting small coffee shops around the greater St. Louis area, we want to share our experiences of these local places. Of course, we are by no means any sort of acclaimed critics, we are just everyday girls sharing the impact and impressions we receive from local small businesses.
Our first stop was one close to home: Toasted Coffee House in High Ridge, MO. It’s tucked away in a small strip, not really on a busy street which was a draw in itself. When we opened the door there was a flood of sensations; the smell of coffee and food, the light chatter of some customers, and a warmth and coziness that made us feel right at home, not to mention the adorable decor! We walked up to the counter to order and were greeted immediately with a smiling face who was happy to help us with making our decisions, and answer any questions we may have had.
I also have to mention that I have a severe food allergy. It’s rare to find places where the staff take the time to tell you the ingredients in the food you want to order to ensure there aren’t any risks, yep, we found that here!
We ended up getting their regular black coffee and their breakfast poppers. We both chose the Toasted House Coffee blend, mom added a bit of creamer to hers. We both ordered the bacon, egg, and cheese poppers, but they are offered also with sausage and in a veggie option! Here’s a description from their menu: “House made honey wheat roll stuffed with scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese, + your choice of bacon or sausage. Veggie poppers available Saturday + Sunday”.
We found a table and stayed for a while to soak in the vibes. Artwork from local high school students are hung on the walls. They have a calendar of events being held, a mural painted above the front window, and an area where they sell products from other local small businesses. Behind this area was a small alcove of sorts that has activities and chalkboard walls for children to play while their adults enjoy the coffee and atmosphere.
They also had a bin collecting for Brendan’s Friday Backpacks, a local charity that provides single-serve, non-perishable, kid-friendly food to local school children. Read more about their mission here.
Donating to charities, supporting local businesses, great food & coffee, friendly & helpful staff, and a cozy atmosphere definitely make this stop a win in our book! We will Definitely be back! Until next time…
Have a lovely day!
Prolonging the Beauty of Your Fresh Cut Flowers
Did you know that Valentine’s Day is the #1 holiday for florists and floral purchases? (cred: aboutflowers.com)
Who doesn’t love the look of fresh cut flowers? But they die, right? So why waste the money? I read somewhere recently that keeping fresh flowers in your space can reduce stress. Well then I’m thinking I need them in all my areas, how ’bout you?
So if you’re in the majority that received flowers for Valentine’s Day, or any other day, I want to show you what I do to my fresh cut flowers that will typically make them last longer.
Now, I have to stress that this isn’t a fool proof system, many factors can affect the longevity of your fresh cut flowers; how old they were when they were purchased and the air quality in the area they will stay are just a couple. This is what typically works for me.
First, take your flowers out of their packaging. I run lukewarm water in the kitchen sink and fill it up enough to cover about 1/3 of the bottom of the stems and gently lay them in the water (bottom of the stems only, not the whole flower, lol)
Make sure your vase (or container of your choice) is clean. I fill it up, also with lukewarm water about 1/2 way, and add 1/2 of the flower food that typically comes with fresh cut flowers. Save the other 1/2 of the flower food for later. If you do not have this, you can place an aspirin in the water. This will help reduce the bacteria in the water.
Figure out how much of the bottom of the stems you need to cut in order for the flowers to be the height you want. Note: make sure you don’t make them too short, you’ll be cutting them again in a few days to a week if they stay “fresh”. Remove any leaves from the stems that are in danger of being submerged in the vase/container of water. Leaves and fallen petals in the water create bacteria and will cause the flowers to wilt sooner. (See pic below)
Take each stem and make the cut at a 45 degree angle, while under the water. The angle cut allows more water to enter the stem. I then take the stem out of the water and place it directly into the vase/container of fresh water & food. . I try to not let air hit the fresh cut part of the stem for too long, because as air flows through the stem, air pockets occur and prevent water absorption. Cutting them under the water reduces the risk of air pockets.
Ideal temperature in the space your flowers will be displayed is between 65-72 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep them away from heating and cooling vents or near tv’s. Heat will increase the water evaporation rate and your flowers will dehydrate. Also keep your fresh cut flowers away from fruit. Fruit releases ethylene gas and will wilt your flowers sooner.
Each week I do the process over again, discarding any flowers that unfortunately didn’t make it through the week. (This is where you use the rest of your food packet. I like to get a small fresh cut bouquet from the grocery store and add them to the flowers that “made the cut” for the week.
I hope this helps you enjoy your flowers for longer than just a couple of days!