Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Our Day on the Texas State Railroad

One of the most fun things about having children is the ability to revisit parts of your childhood that you loved without anyone questioning your maturity. If you lived anywhere in east-central Texas growing up, you've probably ridden the Texas State Railroad at least once. When I called to purchase our tickets, the customer service agent asked how I had heard of it. I can't remember how old I was the first time my family rode it, or there was that time we went on our 3rd grade field trip, or when my brother was old enough to be into trains.

We caught the train out of Palestine, but there are also departures from Rusk. As I mentioned in our Easter recap, this was Jack's 3rd birthday gift from us, and we took a crew along. It was so fun!

They are in the process of restoring the old steam engines, so for now, they're running diesel engines instead. And of course, this gives us a reason to go again!

It's an hour and a half one-way to Rusk from Palestine, leaving at 11:20 and arriving back around 4 PM. We rode in the enclosed car with windows we could adjust to keep the wind at our liking. The weather has been so unpredictable lately, but the day was nice enough that we kept the windows all the way open both ways.

Right behind the engine as we were going out, the open air car had an open air deck/porch area where you could go and see what was going on. The engineer turned around and waved at us, and of course that made the trip.

On the deck watching the action

Once we pulled into the Rusk Depot, we picnicked under the tall East Texas trees. It was such a perfect day to be outside. We couldn't have asked for better weather! Jack was flipping out with excitement as they turned the engine around and attached it to the other end of the train to take us back to Palestine.

We're so proud of this big little guy, and it's a blast to be his mom.

This is a great day trip from the DFW area. They offer box lunches for $10, but we packed our own lunch which was just as fun. I think the non-climate controlled cars are where it's at. Not only are they significantly cheaper than the climate controlled car, the seats are not assigned, and you feel a little more at ease roaming around if you need to stretch your legs.

Also--there were quite a few "adults only" parties checking out the scenery that day. As they say, "All aboard!"

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Chop Chop!

I made a hair appointment for Good Friday afternoon back in January. My hair stylist works part-time, and it takes a miracle to get a last minute appointment with her, so it's easier to just plan ahead. And I love her so no one else will do! Between January and now, I've been considering a change for my hair. With the Texas summer on the way, I thought it would be nice to have it shorter. Less dryer time, less pony tail, and hopefully less fuss? We'll see.

I had fallen into a bad habit of twisting it up into a bun instead of actually doing something to it, so I'm hoping this will cure me. I just feel better when I do my hair. Also, hopefully this will let all those little baby hairs--the product of post-pregnancy hair loss--grow back out together.

Dress: Anthropologie | Belt: Anthropologie | Earrings: Kendra Scott

When I climbed into the chair, we discovered that I had enough to donate and still keep it to the length I wanted! So, awesome, I sent a little over 10 inches to Locks of Love!

In an inconvenient turn of events, my curling iron died in spectacular sparking fashion yesterday so now I'm fixing it with my backup curling iron. Hopefully a new one will ship soon so I can figure out how to fix my "new" hair!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter 2014

For the first time in a really long time, we were able to spend the entire weekend in my hometown for Easter. We normally have responsibilities with Sunday school at our church, but a schedule change resulted in no Sunday school (or Sunday Morning Bible Study--I can't get used to that!) on Easter Sunday morning.

We drove in on Friday evening (after a hair chop for me on Friday afternoon--whoa) and had fajitas at my parents with the rest of the family that was in town. The next morning we were up and at 'em early because Jack was finally getting to cash in on his birthday gift from us--riding the Texas State Railroad. That deserves a post of its own, so it will get one. Here's the whole crew that went with us--my parents and my cousin Josh with his wife Andie and baby Luke.

We spent most of Saturday riding the train, and by Saturday night, we were fairly worn out. My Grannie and Pop hosted us all for pizza that evening when we got back, before heading off to our pajamas.


Sunday morning we slept in a little, then met my parents for church. Jack went into the service with us while Annabelle hung out in the nursery. They have a neat Easter tradition at their church (and many of you may do the same, from the looks of Instagram!) where each person brings a flower to decorate the cross with. It was really beautiful, and today Jack was recounting for me that he got to do that yesterday. He also detailed that he got to hunt for Easter eggs at Grannie and Pop's after lunch. My aunt, uncle, and other cousin came in for the day, so we got to visit with them too!

Both of the children got to hunt for Easter eggs. The little lady's were Cheerio and marshmallow filled, some of her faves!

It was a great weekend celebrating the Risen Savior, surrounded by family!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Us, Lately!

We've been busy the past few weeks during my unintended blog silence. Here's a little peek at what we've been up to!


Way, way back a month ago, we spent spring break at my parents' house. If you had told me when I was 16 that I would actually plan and enjoy a spring break in my hometown, I would've called you crazy. Yet that's exactly what we did. We played at the great community park (with a real retired fire truck that's been retrofitted for kids to crawl all over!), hung out with Sugar and Granddaddy, and ate snow cones. It was great!


Speaking of my parents, last weekend they treated us to Disney on ice last weekend. It was so much fun!

Side note: I often find myself telling Jack to stop making the exact same face I'm making in that family pic. I have been baffled until now on where he picked it up. Poor kid.


The first nice day with nothing on our calendar, we high-tailed it to the Fort Worth Zoo. They have an exhibit on right now called GIGANTABUGS which is quite like it sounds: gigantic replicas of bugs. Especially creepy ones are the scorpion and tarantula. The tarantula is hairy and probably as big as two mid-size SUVs. And they all move. {Shudder}

Not everyone appreciates a good selfie on the train.


I've still been going to Pure Barre religiously. Back during the Olympics, they were having a contest regarding social media check ins and attendance, so I was checking in on Facebook everyday. My friends were like "did you stop going?!?" Nope! I'm still there almost every day, but I only post sometimes. Right now I'm dying (exaggeration) over these blue Splits59 crops and waiting for my studio to get them in.


I cooked my first whole chicken using this recipe from Fort Worth Moms Blog. It reminded me of cooking a pot roast, once I got past the mental block of sticking my hand inside the chicken. Maybe I should stick to pot roast. The chicken was delicious though!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Bunny Banner: An Easy Easter Craft

It's been quite a few weeks since I posted anything, and I've been missing my blog! That's weird to say. Almost as weird as that time my husband told someone that blogging is one of my hobbies. I guess it is, and I guess that's not too much worse than shopping being a hobby (which it is). Anyway, hi and happy spring!

Last week I was fluffing my house for the season and realized I didn't have much in the way of Easter decor. We need some chicks and bunnies up in this place. Preferably not the chocolate ones because I will just eat them. And preferably not live ones either, family!

I whipped up this easy little bunny banner. It's sweet and precious and easy. All supplies (except for the bunny stencil) were bought at my Super Walmart, which carries fabric again. What were they thinking ever taking out the craft section in Walmart? Glad they fixed it.

I cut my own pennant banner pattern out of poster board a few years ago and have used it several times. It was a very technical process (except it wasn't) that yielded a big triangle. I used my Silhouette to cut the bunny out of card stock, but you could google "bunny silhouette," print your favorite result on thick paper, and cut it out.

My pennants are burlap which makes a big ol' dusty mess when cut, but I love the look of it, so what do you do? And the quilt binding is found near the thread. This was a 7/8" width which was 3 yards long (and obviously I used light pink instead of red shown here for example). I used the entire length for my mantle and have a little over a foot hanging on each end.

After painting the bunnies, I tucked the pennants into the binding and sewed the whole thing, but you could easily hot glue. Then I just hot glued the cotton tails on. Definitely my favorite part!

We're excited about Easter! Every day, the kids pull the baskets down off of the hearth, throw the eggs around the living room and then...I make them pick them up. It's great practice for the church egg hunt!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Party Recipes

Today I wanted to share a couple of recipes I used for Annabelle's party.

Chicken Salad
I used this recipe for chicken salad and really liked it. The onions in it made it different from others I've made before. It had almost a French onion taste, while still being chicken salad. I used grapes and left out the walnuts.

Using a rotisserie chicken was genius. After de-boning it, I shredded it in my stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Both of these items combined to make the chicken salad a snap.

Party Sandwiches
For the party sandwiches, I made these that I've mentioned before. They're always a hit, so I keep on making them. I assemble them the night before, cover and refrigerate, then make the glaze and bake about 30 minutes before the party. They come out at the perfect time to be warm but not finger-burning at the start time.

Fruit Dip
And then there was the fruit dip. I ran out of time to make the fruit dip because I forgot to set out my cream cheese, so I made it the day after. Otherwise, it takes approximately five minutes to make. So easy, and so incredibly delicious. Only three ingredients. We ate it with a spoon when we weren't dipping strawberries in it.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Smocked Auctions Spring Warehouse Sale

The week of my kids' birthdays, Smocked Auctions had a warehouse sale over in Dallas. If you're not familiar with Smocked Auctions, it started as a children's clothing company that primarily held an "auction" on Facebook each Thursday night starting at 8:30 PM. They expanded into Instagram selling, and during their warehouse sale, they announced the launch of their website, which now offers cute kids' clothes 24/7. So you can get your smocking fix anytime, of course.

Back to the warehouse sale. Smocking? On sale? Local?

What time should I be there?!?

My sweetie girl and I headed over to Big D on the second day of the sale because that's when we were free. They didn't allow strollers in so she sat on my hip in her sling, leaving me mostly hands-free to shop. There were quite a few kids running around, so kids were definitely not prohibited, just the strollers.

Even though it was the second day, I found plenty of cute things. Smocked items were $29.99 and non-smocked were $19.99. They also had a few fine children's brands such as Florence Eiseman and Feltman Brothers priced separately (i.e. more than $29.99). I didn't come across any of these in our size.

But we did manage to score some cute spring and summer dresses for my girl! I was actually looking at the Petit Ami sailor suit on another site, so I was pleasantly surprised to find it here for around twenty bucks. We grabbed a couple of bubbles, one of them for Easter (please warm up, Texas), and one other very sweet dress that she wore on her actual birthday. She felt very sassy and cute in it, and she showed it throughout the day (in a good way, I promise!)

The actual birthday day dress. Perfect for spring and summer.

I didn't shop far out of our current sizes (18 or 24 months, depending on the brand) since it was primarily spring and summer items, but I noticed they had quite a bit for older girls too (like through kinder-sized).

I think they have a fall sale as well. It was definitely worth the drive to find cute boutique outfits for a deal. I would go again.

A successful shopping mission for my girl and me!
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