Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 Christmas Season Lookback

My heart has been so full this Christmas season. With Jack old enough to understand a little of celebrating the Savior come to set his people free, our sweet baby girl's first Christmas, plus extra days to spend stuck at home together with the great ice storm, it's been a wonderful Christmas to write into the Gentry family annals.

The second week of December, we met up with my family in Dallas for dinner at Mi Cocina in Highland Park Village and a carriage ride through the Highland Park Christmas lights. It was a chilly night, but we bundled up tight and had just a wonderful time snuggled in together. If you've never done the Highland Park lights before, they are stunning, especially when you start off from HPV, which is stunning in its simple but complex, white light wrapped trees.

I hope I can always remember what Jack sounded like this year each time he said, "Look at all the Christmas lights!" like he had never seen them before. The wonder of a child.

Jack's class at preschool was old enough to participate in their Christmas program. It was a simple but sweet presentation of the nativity, complete with angels, Mary, Joseph, a baby doll Jesus, the shepherds, some kings, and a whole flock of 2 year olds sheep.

As a family, we drove around and looked at Christmas lights one evening the week before Christmas, which is something Mr. G and I always did before we had kids, usually on a special Christmas date night where we open our gifts together before we left to be with one of our families for Christmas eve. Now it's our desire to be home on Christmas eve/morning with our little immediate family, so our Christmas date will take on a new look. This year it was a weekend away to celebrate the anniversary of our first date a decade ago.

My sweeties in their Christmas pj's.

The internet brings us so many fun and unique ideas for children's activities during the Christmas season that it can be a little daunting and/or make you feel like a slacker for not having some amazing pinnable experiences. Don't let yourself fall into the lie that your holidays have to be something out of a magazine. Family traditions are important, and some of the best traditions (like tucking into carseats for a late drive around the neighborhood Christmas lights) aren't pinnable ones. I think this can apply to any holiday, even the Hallmark ones.

I, for one, am praying on behalf of moms everywhere that no one markets a Cupid on a Shelf in 2014.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Official Santa Visit of 2013

Before 2013 closes out, I'm updating with a few of our Christmas happenings. We spent a fun day over in Dallas at NorthPark where we saw the real Santa and did some of the last of our Christmas shopping.

Mr. G had some things to wrap up at work before a long break, and our time to see Santa was limited, so it was just the kiddos and me. They were both so good the entire time. Annabelle got a little fussy as I was tying her bonnet on, but I explained to her that accessories are just part of being a girl. Today's bonnet is a pair of uncomfortable high heels during a 10 hour work day two decades in the future.

NorthPark has a great system where you pick up a number, and that determines your place in line to see Santa. They start handing them out at 9 am. Apparently the day we were there, husbands/dads had started lining up at 7 am to get an early number. When we got there at 9:30 am, we got a number that was estimated to be for approximately 7 pm later that day. Thankfully, we were able to standby and scoot in right after lunch. Surprisingly, it was probably the fastest we've seen Santa.

Santa spent a few minutes with Jack, asking if and what kind of cookies we might make him. Jack told him that he wanted a "four-wheeler like Granddaddy's" for Christmas. No tears, only a little apprehension as we walked up.

Annabelle's first Santa pic.

She was more like, "I'm not really sure what's happening here, but can we get this over with? I'd like to take my nap, please."

My childhood next door neighbor commented on Facebook: "The place where anxiety and politeness intersect. That is a Texas girl."

I love it so much!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Rodan+Fields Multi Function Eye Cream Review

Have you heard of Rodan+Fields? It's a skin care line that is sweeping the nation (or at least, my part of the nation) that was created by the dermatologists that also brought the ProActiv to the masses.

They are back with their namesake Rodan+Fields line, which is totally just showing off at this point, with all their skincare magician ways. I have friends that are swearing by the changes these different product lines have made on their faces.

My long-time friend Deanna is an R+F Consultant, and knowing what a product junkie I am, sent me a mini-facial quite a few months ago. I was beside myself over how the Night Renewing Serum made my skin feel. (Mr. G will attest. I marched into the living room and made him pet my cheek. He was very confused about the whole incident.)

So Deanna did it again and sent me a full size of the Multi-Function Eye Cream to try out. It's another product from the REDEFINE line, which is for any ladies who might be attempting to keep time from marching across their faces.

Immediately, I noticed that my eyes were brighter. I wasn't sure what kind of voodoo this might be, but I read on the packaging that it indeed had something that would perk dark circles up immediately. I've been using it after I wash my face at night, and again in the morning. Any makeup counter will encourage you to put an eye cream on first before applying concealer. This one works awesome for that purpose! My small jar is about halfway empty, and I've been using it generously for two months.

Deanna is offering up a great deal for readers of my blog right now. For anyone who signs up as a Preferred Customer (a way to receive regular product discounts), she'll give you a full size Daily Body Moisturizer. Just
e-mail her
and tell her you read it here for your gift. They offer this great Solutions Tool to help you find just the right product line for you.

And if you're a gadget girl, the end of year R+F Corporate special is a free AMP MD Roller with the purchase of the entire REDEFINE line, available here until 12/31/2013. You need to read up on the roller. It has great reviews from beauty bloggers who've tried it.

Do yourself a favor as you close out this year and make it a commitment to take better care of your skin in 2014! (This is mine every year. Only now it involves defying gravity as well.)

(Disclaimer: I did receive a full size eye cream to review, but opinions, as always, are my own!)

Christmas Weekending

The march to Christmas day just hasn't slowed down one bit since Thanksgiving day came so late! I feel like I'm behind on just about everything. How is this possible? I ask myself this every day.

Friday night our church provided one last Parents' Night Out of the year which Mr. G and I took advantage of to complete our Christmas shopping. We have very little other time between now and next week with his work schedule plus other Christmas events. We're starting the tradition this year of our kids opening two gifts Christmas eve--one from us and one from their sibling. And we realized that we didn't have some things that really fit that bill, or maybe what we thought fit the bill was something we didn't want to deal with on Christmas Eve? Can anyone relate to this?

I promise we found something that will bring just as much joy, to be opened on Christmas eve. And with many pieces, just not one million. Or even one hundred.

I was moping through the aisles of TRU, lamenting the fact that I couldn't find a cute infant play toy that was undeniably pink and definitely for females and not remotely gender neutral when I randomly found this gem on a shelf. It was the last one, and I knew it was the one. Can we get more girly than this? (Oh yes, we can. With baby's first baby doll and doll stroller. Oh yes ma'am, we are.)

But lo, in a sea of gender neutral, the Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Magical Musical Mirror stood alone amongst the infant playthings of Fort Worth Toys R Us some mere days before Christmas.

It was a successful evening for both of our kids.

Saturday I had time to sit down and address Christmas cards that had been delivered Friday evening. And hopefully today they'll get in a mailbox somewhere. Tick tock tick tock!

We had a wonderful day at church yesterday. It was good to be back after the weather we had last week shut us down. Our church Christmas concert has featured a special guest over the past several years, and this year it was the Katinas. It was Jack's first year to go with us, and he did awesome. He's growing up on me!

We're looking forward to a busy week on the march toward Christmas. I'm praying for additional focus that the Price of Peace would reign in my heart this week and that I would make time to slow down and enjoy these beautiful days of the season.

A very merry Christmas to you!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Beware of Walking in a Winter Wonderland

It's been over a week since I posted, and in that time, it's gone from over 80 degrees here in Fort Worth, to an icy, frozen Winter Wonderland! Although it finally got up above freezing temperatures for only a few hours Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, thankfully it was just enough to make the roads passable, with some major help from TXDoT. Texans get such a bad rap about not being able to drive under winter conditions, but we don't get snow often. We only get ICE, which is so different. In my thirty-something years, I think this past weekend holds the record for the worst ice storm I've experienced. We could barely walk on our street, must less drive on it. Even our yard was too slick to walk on by Saturday.

(I found out the walking thing the hard way when I busted it right in front of my neighbors while attempting to say hi. Bruises included.)

We have spent a fabulous, cozy four days at home together. While I was certainly getting close to a brush with cabin fever, I had many moments of thankfulness for this season that my kids are in, and the warm home we are blessed to share with them. We made some great memories (or at least Mom and Dad did) while we were ice-locked.

On Friday, Jack and Mr. G built a tent in our bedroom. It was epic in my little guy's eyes, so I looked the other way as they pulled out nearly every quilt, sleeping bag, and pillow in the house to construct their temporary housing. And my broom got swept up in the action (see what I did there,) acting as the centerpole.

By Saturday morning, we needed a little something else to do, so I remembered that we had graham crackers in the pantry along with some Halloween candy that wasn't our favorite--that would be anything that wasn't chocolate--so a quick google of gingerbread house icing lead me to this super recipe for glue. I'll use it every year, except hopefully I will have fresher powdered sugar on hand so it will taste better.

Someone on Facebook asked how we did this so cleanly. I commandeered the glue, Jack placed the candy on, and by the time we were done, we tossed our candy-filled cupcake wrappers in the trash with one quick sweep of the table. In a flash, my DustBuster handled the rest, and we were done. Next time I won't pull out tiny sprinkles, but it was one of those "use anything you can find in the pantry" situations. Lesson learned on that one.

Sunday morning we treacherously trekked just across the street to our neighbors' to eat breakfast and spend time with them and 2 other families nearby. I think from the length of everyone's stay, it was evident that everyone was so glad to see other human life! It was a great visit and reminded me of how much I love the community I live in and that I need to slow down and take more time to enjoy it.

We were glad to see the ice melt while we were out of the house because we had big plans for Sunday evening. I'll have to post on that later, if I have time to jump back on here during naptime tomorrow. I hope you have a great week, and stay warm!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Back from the Thanksgiving

Annabelle's first Thanksgiving is over. We're back home and digging into our Christmas decorations. But not before we ate ourselves so full that I declared I wouldn't eat anything that wasn't a vegetable ever again (until later that night when I had leftovers of my Grannie's dressing.) Y'all, I made three pies, and that was in addition to all the other desserts we had. It was insane. It was wonderful.

On our way to Corsicana

One of my pies was a chocolate one, using the recipe from Homesick Texan, whose blog is a great resource for home cooking. My Meemaw (Dad's mom) who is known for her chocolate pies, but is now in a nursing home, joined us for Thanksgiving at my Grannie's (Mom's mom.) I hope I did her proud on the meringue! I also made no-pecan pie and a classic Tollhouse pie just in case of a dessert emergency which, of course, there was none. The no-pecan pie was because I don't like pecans.

It was a great visit. Lots of cousins, aunts, uncles, and kids running in and out. I knew Jack would be so excited to get outside and GO, so we made sure he was all fixed up for the muddy conditions. A new farm coat, which I highly recommend if you need something inexpensive, but warm that your little one might tear up, some new Carhartt overalls from his grandparents, and a good pair of mud boots, and that boy was out the door.

After a Friday of online shopping (me) and hunting (him), we headed back on Saturday around lunch time. It was just a good family weekend! I have so many things I'm thankful for this year. Although not without its challenges, 2013 has been a sweet one for us. I praise God for that!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Don't Leave Cash on the Table This Christmas

I couldn't let Black Friday pass us by without mentioning Ebates this year.

You've probably heard of Ebates. If you haven't or if you're a skeptic, let me tell you, somehow it's NOT too good to be true.

Ebates Coupons and Cash Back

If you shop through Ebates you earn cash back at most of your favorite online destinations. They offer cash back at GAP, Old Navy, Banana Republic, Nordstrom, J. Crew, Wal-Mart, Tractor Supply (I know this because I was just shopping for Carhartt overalls, random), Kate Spade, Tory Burch, Dillard's, Carter's, Land's End, Neiman's, to name a few.

It's easy. You sign up, do a little search on their website for the retailer you want to shop for, then a new browser tab or window is launched for you to shop, along with a tracking ticket to keep a record of your purchase. This is where you will be skeptical until they notify you a few days later that you've earned $x amount from Ebates.

How it Works info graphic is straight from Ebates.

Once a quarter, you'll get a check in the mail with your total Ebates. It's that simple. You receive cash back in the form of a check for purchases that you were going to make anyway. I've endorsed the checks and cashed them myself. They are real.

They even have a friend referral program, so if you click here to sign up and then use the site to make a purchase, I'll actually get a little bonus cash in my next check!

When you receive your first check in the mail with money back on all those things you were going to buy anyway, you'll feel like a power shopper. Because you ARE a power shopper!

Sign up and start earning cash back!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Mama Monday: What a SAHM is Missing

I thought of something last night that I'm totally missing out on while being a stay at home mother.

(Hold on to your hats. It's clearly very serious and important.)

(Except I am kidding in case you've not yet begun to understand my sarcasm.)

We're missing FOOD DAY AT WORK, SAHMs.

It didn't even register to me that I no longer get to experience the smorgasbord that is food day at work until last night when I was putting together party sandwiches for my husband to take to his office for food day today. Food day is when I found some of my best recipes--sampling my Co-Workers' dishes. Food day is one of the very best days to be in the office. (The #1 best day to be in the office is pay day.)

I think I may organize the other moms in my neighborhood for a potluck, which will technically be my very own food day at work.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

What's in my bag?

I don't think I've ever done one of these posts before, so let's dive right in!

Here's my bag. It's a mom bag. I'm good with that, although I swap out with my non-mom bags when I'm running kid-free errands. Don't let her white stripes fool you. She's a work horse.

(I really thought I had lost my mind when I bought an everyday bag with white stripes. It's okay if you do too.)

The usual suspects: indestructible mom sunglasses, a good neutral lipstick (MAC Modesty), face powder, Tylenol, my wallet. Diapers, wipes, and food.

Also, you're looking at 4 different kinds of wipes: Shout wipes, regular wipes, Kleenexes, and anti-bacterial wipes. No shortage of paper goods in this bag. There are also 2 sizes of diapers, which work to absorb many different kinds of liquids if you're ever in a jam.

Tiny shoes that a tiny girl kicked off at lunch yesterday. (Robeez Gracie.)
HEB Buddy points and a ticket from riding the train at the Zoo.

Two tubes of Desitin, two tubes of sunscreen. This might seem like overkill to some, but I can't say enough about applying diaper cream and sunscreen.

My favorite burpy bib along with a grab and go snack for the baby. I bag the spoon up with the baby food (I don't make my own) to keep it all together, plus it gives me a little throw away baggie if I need one while we're out. Puffs and the formula dispenser are back there too.

I carry enough food to feed both an infant and a preschooler at any given time. Not pictured are the Teddy Grahams and fruit snacks that I forgot to pull out of their hidey pocket.

There are so many pockets in the bag that all of this is actually quite organized, and I know where to grab any of it at any given moment. Except for the HEB Buddy points and train ticket--those were actually a surprise.

I've shared my anti-bacterial, sunscreen, and diaper ointment applying tendencies along with my need for a wipe for all occasions. Tell me, what's the strangest thing you're carrying around "in case of emergency?"

Thursday, November 7, 2013


I'm just a few days late with this one. This has been a busy week, with sick kids, meeting up with friends, and prepping for a Pinterest day at our church this Saturday where I'm leading a class. Busy!

Last weekend I dropped our babies off with my parents on Friday afternoon and headed back to Fort Worth after eating supper with them and my brother. We had gotten a call a couple of days earlier inviting us to take advantage of some Aggie football tickets our friends had been given. Everything totally aligned--childcare, tickets, and a mostly free weekend. YES!

The tickets were passed along by two gentlemen in our church who have had them for probably decades. Our parking pass was in the lot right in the shadow of Kyle Field, which really uncomplicated a lot of game day for us. So wonderful!

We caught one of our former high school students who is in the Corps during march-in, saw Luke Joeckel on his scooter with his hurt ankle, and managed to grab some Aggie stocking stuffers for the kids. After a ridiculous first quarter, the Aggies started to come alive. It was great to watch Johnny play even a little longer than we expected. We headed out in the fourth quarter since it was already late (kick-off was at 8 PM), and we all had to be back for Harvest Day, our new building dedication, and other responsibilities at church the next morning.

8 AM came pretty early the next morning, even with falling back an hour. It was Harvest Day at church, and we dedicated a new building with dining facilities, music suite, and education space for Senior Adults. It was a great day! After, we headed back to Corsicana to pick up my kids and visit with my family for a bit. It was a great weekend, and we were so grateful we got to make a trip to Aggieland this year to see our Fightin' Texas Aggies!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween, Little Gentry Style

Dr. Gentry and my sweet Cabbage Patch Kid

Happy Halloween!

All Jack wanted to be this year was "a doctor with a white coat" (his words.) I thought I had one good year to coordinate their costumes, but thanks to possibly a little too much Doc McStuffins, a doctor was the thing. I ordered his little coat and stethoscope on the world wide web, and since Annabelle is my real life baby doll, her costume was only natural.

Last Friday night was our church's Fall Festival, so we loaded up the kiddos to hang out there for a while. Jack is still a little small with so many big kids traipsing about, but that's where the action is, so of course that's where he wants to be! I don't blame him. It was a great chance to try out costumes!

Today we ran up to my old office to do a little Halloween celebrating. Southwest Airlines Halloween is epic and just "plane" fun! I knew there would be tons for my little guy to do, and it was an opportunity to catch up with friends that I've been missing.

I'm going to try and get another pic on the front porch this evening. A good goal would be to have at least one of them looking at the camera this time. There were so many fun things and people to see at the fall festival where this was taken. I don't blame them one bit!

I had grand plans to come up with some awesome Halloween themed dinner before heading out to trick or treat tonight, but all week I've been seeing those Papa Murphy's commercials for a jack o' lantern pizza. And I am not one to reinvent the wheel. For ten bucks, you get a festive pizza and a thing of cookie dough. Done and done. We've never tried it, so I'm interested to see if it's good!

From the Papa Murphy's website

Have a fun and safe evening!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Pure Barre 100 Club

I'm proud to say that I officially hit my 100th class at Pure Barre on Monday!

From the Pure Barre Fort Worth Instagram feed
With super cute owner, Kelsey

Being a stay at home mom, I can't measure a lot of my successes these days. Parenting children has no end in sight. (My mom and yours would say amen to this.) The laundry basket is emptied to be filled the next hour, the toys are picked up to be scattered about the floor again, and meals are cooked for dishes to be washed to cook more meals. These are not complaints. I feel absolutely blessed to spend my time in this manner, but it's the reality of my current days.

It's nice to have something that's mine with benchmarked goals, and that's what Pure Barre is for me right now. I try each week to pick a new challenge for myself in class, whether it's making it through the abs section without needing support for my lower back (check!), actually picking my feet up in flat back (still working on this one), or making it through warm up and arms without breaking form (most of the time!)

Somewhere in the 100 classes (now 101!), I've lost weight, quite a few inches, and as you can imagine I'm loving those results. It's been worth the investment in myself, and now I have a wardrobe of clothes that fit again. Amazing how that happens when you work hard.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Fresh Green Beans {Recipe}

I know fresh green beans are really in season during summer, but nothing makes a house smell more like a home than a big yummy pot of green beans with bacon simmering on the stove.

OK, maybe it's really the bacon that makes the house smell like a home.

Either way, this smells good.

My mom came to stay with us one week last summer while Mr. G was traveling and brought beans from my dad's garden. She snapped them and made this, and I've kept making it because it's semi-healthy (green beans, right?), easy, and also, bacon. I posted a pic on Instagram a few weeks ago and had several inquiries for the recipe. You'll notice I don't really have any measurements. No wrongs, just right on this one. And my preschooler loves helping me snap the beans, which I suppose is also working on those fine motor skills.

Before adding chicken stock

You'll need...

1 lb. fresh green beans, snapped (or as many as you like)
5 small red potatoes, cut up (or as many as you like, broken record)
bacon, strips cut into smaller pieces (I use half of a standard store size package)
1/2 onion, diced
Chicken stock - enough to cover your vegetables
salt and pepper to taste

In the bottom of your pot, cook your bacon pieces done but not crispy. Place green beans, potatoes, and onions on top, then cover with chicken stock. Add in salt and pepper, and bring the pot to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover. When beans and potatoes are tender, it's ready. This is usually about 25-30 minutes for me.

On nights where this is our main dish, I make sure to start with a LOT of bacon and add cornbread muffins alongside it. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


This weekend was just an ordinary weekend. Nothing fancy, nothing big, just hanging out as a family doing the things that we do.

By some strange course of events, Thursday I had an allergic reaction--red welts and itching on my arms and legs. It got worse on Friday, and by the time Mr. G got home from work, I had checked in on the web at CareNow (a local urgent care clinic) to be seen ASAP! It was also parents' night out at our church, so first he dropped me off at the clinic, ran to drop off the kids, and came back to pick me up. By the time he was back, I had a steroid shot and a prescription.

We had easy plans to hang at Brewed so that's where we headed after my prescription was filled. Brewed has a Sweet Eugene's feel to it, if you're familiar with College Station, except they serve a full menu of food as well as coffee. We ate, people watched, and talked about Christmas. We're anticipating so much fun with our kids.

I wouldn't have even mentioned the breaking out allergic reaction thing, except that on Saturday we had family pictures scheduled. Red welts. On arms and legs. Some on neck. Awesome. By that evening, it didn't look too bad. (At least that's what I'm telling myself. And yes, #firstworldprobs.) We had a 20 minute mini-session for pictures this year because I wasn't sure how it would work out with a baby and preschooler. They were both great, although Annabelle didn't have the usual smiles I was expecting out of her. We're talking kids though--so really I should've known to expect the unexpected.

After, we made good on a promise for ice cream since the preschooler smiled well for the pics. I can't wait to see how they turned out. He definitely earned his ice cream!

A cookie monster from Cheddar's. YUM.

Sunday we spent the morning at church, then lunch after with friends. Later that afternoon, we BOO'd our neighbors. I took some covert pics, and I think the little guy had fun!

We filled the in between times with football (mostly him) and Pure Barre (all me) and trying to forget about the Aggie loss (both of us.) I hope you had a relaxing weekend too!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

It's About Time: The Mama VoxBox Post

Several weeks ago I received a VoxBox from Influenster, and I'm just now sitting down to let you know how I feel about it. Free products? I guess I feel pretty good about that, in particular.

Influenster is a social network of sorts, where you sign on to take surveys about your product usage, review items and services, and on occasion, if you meet the demographic, they send out something called a VoxBox with free products for you to try. I've heard some equate this to a BirchBox or something like that--it's definitely not that at all. You never know what interesting combination might included in these boxes. For example...

This particular VoxBox contained things that moms might be interested in.

Pond's Luminous Finish BB+ Cream, Annie's Microwaveable Mac and Cheese,
Dr. Scholl's For Her Comfort Insoles, belVita Soft Baked Chocolate Chip Breakfast Biscuit

Annie's Microwaveable Mac and Cheese: I haven't heated this one up yet, but my kid loves mac and cheese. If it comes back with a thumbs down, I'll let you know. A multipack retails for $3.29. ETA: Meh.

Dr. Scholl's For Her Comfort Insoles: I tried this in a variety of shoes. I wasn't impressed at all when I put them in my heels, but I loved them in my tall riding boots, which are flat and have no support in them. I also tried them in a new pair of non-stretching, unforgiving patent flats, and because they raised my foot up, the stiff elastic in the back hit my heel differently, making them much more comfortable. I'll keep trying these.

I'm deducting points for the hard plastic packaging that I cut my finger on while try to open them. It's 2013. We can do better. Retails for $12.49.

belVita Soft Baked Breakfast Biscuits: Jack and I ripped that sucker open as soon as we saw it. We both agreed we wish we hadn't had to share it, but I'm not sure even the whole thing would be enough for me for breakfast. I might buy them again. But at 5 WW pp, I might rather have a real cookie. (For comparison, a Great American Cookie Co. original only has 6 points.) Retails for $3.69.

Pond's BB+ Cream: I'll admit that I've been a make up snob. I don't buy it at the drugstore. I've even tried to like drugstore mascara, but just never found a good one. Within a few days of using the Pond's BB+ Cream, I raved about it on Instagram. I had even gotten several out of the blue compliments on my makeup. I definitely recommend this to my friends. One of my young friends bought it, told me she was skeptical because she thought Pond's was an old lady brand, and then told me how much she loved it.

It includes SPF 15, covers well, and the light shade is perfect for my pale self. It takes a minute to dry well, but that usually happens to me on products with SPF. I would compare this to a tinted moisturizer. Great for days when you don't want to put on heavy foundation. Retails for $9.99.

I would not lie about something as critical as your face, ladies. This one's a winner.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Too Easy To Mess Up Banana Bread

My favorite tea room in Fort Worth is the Rose Garden, located in the Fort Worth Mercantile tucked into the traffic circle over on the west side. It's twinkly, sparkly atmosphere, and I love to lady lunch there with friends. Or I lunch with my littles and just me. My usual order is a combination of everything delicious about tea rooms in general: a small bit of chicken salad, a cup of the soup du jour, a sliver of quiche, fruit, and they throw in two little delicious tea sandwiches that are basically pumpkin bread with cream cheese in the middle.

I used to be able to feed the little guy right off of my plate--we'd just split each thing because it's more than enough food. And then, he discovered the little pumpkin bread sandwiches. He would eat every single last bite and beg for mine! Now he gets his own order of sandwiches.

While I do like pumpkin bread on occasion, I don't like pumpkin flavored stuff in general, and cooking with pumpkin puree kind of grosses me out. (I know, I know--throw me out of the lovers of fall club and all that.)

I do, however, love banana bread (without pecans--I don't like those either. I know, I know.) Jack loves bananas too, and inevitably we have extras going a little past their prime probably once a month. And thus, I came up with another little treat to pack in the little guy's preschool lunch. Tiny banana bread sandwiches, similar to our tea room faves.

I've been using this easy recipe, which is simple enough that I can whip up a fresh loaf of bread in the morning before we leave for school. I use the lesser amount of sugar and 3 bananas. One slice of banana bread, cut in half, spread with a thin layer of cream cheese on one side, then smash the second side on it makes a great little half banana bread sandwich. He loves it, and I feel like it helps fill his belly, better than something like crackers or goldfish.

I make a second one for myself while I'm at it!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Pure Barre Review Update!

I've mentioned going to Pure Barre several times since I did my original review, but I thought it was about time I did another update!

Pure Barre is my very favorite workout. Ever. I'm seeing amazing results that are the combined product of that old adage "decrease input, increase output," but they are great results. I'm within 3 pounds of my pre-Jack weight, a number on the scale I've not seen since approximately June 2010. I'm not big on before and after pics, but that stat speaks for itself.

I still have quite a way to go, but I know I'll get there. My three month baby bounce back package expired, but I just renewed and kept right on going. Right now my studio is having an October 20 classes in 30 day challenge, and I'm already 12 classes in on the 15th of the month. In a couple of weeks, I'll be joining what is called the "100 Club" which is Pure Barre speak for people who've been to 100 classes. You get fancy 100 Club sticky socks and everything! (Sticky socks are what you wear on your feet to keep them from sliding around on the carpet. You probably already figured that out, but just in case, there you have it.)

It's a really fun, challenging, and empowering workout. I highly recommend it if you have one in your area!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Fall Weekending

Weekends have become such a sweet time to have Mr. G home now that I'm a full time homemaker. And I don't mean that in a, "Here! You take 'em now!" type of way. No, instead, it's a great time of Daddy being home to play with us. It excites our son so much to see his dad come through the door on Friday, and it's hard not to catch the excitement!

This weekend we made a quick overnight trip to see my family. My brother was off on Friday, my aunt was in town, and of course we got to see my grandparents and parents too. Lots of family packed into a less than 24 hour trip. A huge blessing!

My mom made a flying trip to Canton the weekend before to grab some metal orange Halloween buckets for Jack and Annabelle. I thought I bought one for Jack a couple of years ago and just needed another for Annabelle, but when I went to pull it out, it just said "The Gentrys." (Pictured here.) I have no idea what I was thinking. I was convinced that I bought one for him, but clearly not. I'm attributing that to combined pregnancy/new mommy brain shrinkage. How long can one reasonably continue to use that excuse? Either way, we're all fixed up now, thanks to Sugar. Halloween crisis averted.

It came a gully washer while we were there, and ultimately my car got stuck just off of my grandparents' driveway. I'd say it was quite an adventure, but by the time my dad pulled us out, the kiddos were already asleep.

After a quick trip home, a ridiculous Aggie football win, and church on Sunday, here we are, back at another Monday. I hope you have a great week!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Dr. Smith's Diaper Ointment at the Ritz

I'm late reporting back on this one, but two weekends ago, I headed over to the Ritz-Carlton Dallas for a national launch party of Dr. Smith's diaper ointment.

Now if there is anything I can step on my bully pulpit about, it's sunscreen and diaper ointment. I re-apply diaper cream at every diaper change. You know what they say, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

Was Ben Franklin specifically talking about baby rears with that one?

Anywho, the nice folks at at Mission Pharmacal who make Dr. Smith's were kind enough to invite me to their truly lovely launch party at Fearing's. I learned so much about Dr. Smith's that morning, and the food was delicious! Mission is a generational family-owned company, based in San Antonio. They bought the Dr. Smith's brand several years ago, and until recently, their product was only available locally in the south Texas area. (Those South Texans--holding out on us. My friend Deanna who lives not far from San Antonio was all, "Oh yeah, we've been using that for years.")

With their national launch, you can now find the product everywhere. Just this week I spotted it next to the other big brand diaper creams at HEB and Wal-mart.

As part of the celebration, they had the beautiful Ali Landry in to host the event. She has a 10 week old baby herself and was so kind and friendly. Just another mom--a gorgeous one, at that!

With Ali and my friend, Becky

Pic courtesy of Dr. Smith's Facebook page.

I asked my doctor a few months ago what diaper cream she recommended, and all she said was "something with zinc." Well, this product fits the bill. We've been using what Dr. Smith's gave us, and I'm sold. I love supporting families, the Texas economy (I know, lots of Texas pride here), and just good people. I can't tell you how moving it was to hear the Leadership of Mission talk about how excited and yet humbled they felt to take their product to the next level. Those folks appeared to be the salt of the earth-type of people that you'd love to do business with.

Disclosure: I must tell you that I was by no means obligated to post this on my blog. I had such a fun morning and was inspired by their commitment to helping moms. I received a tube of the product for free, but I wouldn't have posted on the subject if we hadn't had a good experience with it.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

That Baby in the Bonnet...

...belongs to me!

Facial expression not indicative of our feelings toward our bonnet.

Also, I could squeeze those cheeks all day long.

I was probably about 7 months pregnant with Annabelle when I came across the Beaufort Bonnet Company. I "liked" them on Facebook, and within a day, my mom had called and said, "I saw the bonnet company you liked, and Annabelle will have one of those."

Thanks, Mom!

I absolutely love the backstory behind the Company: how a mother, wanting classic, beautiful bonnets for her baby girl, bought the business and is expanding it. I love to shop, love supporting momtrepreneurs, and I love classic children's clothing, especially for little girls.

Annabelle even had newborn pics made in her sweet bow swaddle from BBC. This is the exact pic I used on our announcement. I love her little Mona Lisa smile!

If you're a boy mom, they have Beaufort Buckets for you--just perfect for those first few summers to keep sun out of a little man's face. Everything we've ordered from there has come beautifully packaged and out of the box ready to carry as a gift. And the craftsmanship is perfection. Once, my mom called them to order while their website was down, and they included the sweetest handwritten note, thanking her for her purchase and patience during that time. Great customer service.

At the zoo, in our first bonnet, the Worth Ave. White with a pale pink script monogram.

We usually have one on for church on Sunday morning, and the ladies who hold the door are always cooing over "that baby in that bonnet!" If you're looking for a unique and precious gift for a new baby or young child, I highly recommend the Beaufort Bonnet Company. They even have cute things for adults: travel accessories, towels...I would take one of everything!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Annabelle is 7 Months Old!

My sweet, blue-eyed baby doll turned 7 months old last Sunday. Seven months is starting to sound close to 12 months, and I am not prepared for that!

On the day we spent close to home this week, the kids were playing in the floor for quite a while together. She just giggled and giggled at her big brother. When I went to put her down for a nap, her brother said, "No, Mommy. Annabelle not take her nap yet. I am still sharing with her!" And then, I melted.

Not really. Then I made them both take a nap. But it was awesomely heartwarming!

At seven months, Annabelle has adjusted to a good eating schedule, including solids. She really, really likes the orange foods, so I expect her to be sporting a great tan in about a week. She's babbling and singing and giggling. At her check up last week, she was in the 96th percentile for height, which would explain why her 9 month clothes don't fit. (Also, she did not run fever with her shots, praise the Lord!) She just transitioned to her big girl car seat and wasn't nearly as excited about it as I was. She was really kinda "meh" about the whole thing, actually.

A smiley girl from the get-go, she completely lights up when you flash her a grin. She's so precious in so many ways, and we're thankful to have this beautiful little girl in our lives. That's really the understatement of the year. What a blessing she is!

I understand the whole "sugar and spice and everything nice" rhyme now. That is definitely what our little girl is made of.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Super Easy Gnome Halloween Costume

It's October! Time to ready the costumes and try not to eat all the candy on the seasonal aisle. For some reason, Reese's peanut butter pumpkins are so much more enticing than Reese's any other time of the year for me.

Stop calling my name, Reese's pumpkins! I have baby weight to lose!

Last year at this time, I was working on a big project, commuting, mothering a 20-month-old, and 5 months pregnant. To say I was tired was a total understatement. Then I came down with shingles. It was a really nutso time in my life.

I really wanted to phone it in and buy a pre-made costume, but I couldn't find anything that I liked. And yeah, there is a fairly cute, pre-made gnome costume floating around the internet, but I wanted something more akin to David the Gnome (please tell me you watched that on Nickelodeon also) rather than the garden gnome variety.

So, naturally, I decided to make my own! You can too, with some strategic purchases that you'll re-wear for the rest of the year, along with some super easy cutting and stitching. You might even have these items in your little guy's wardrobe already.

I can't believe he was so small last year. It goes too fast, too fast.

I started with a pair of GAP cords that, after the fact, he wore to church all winter long. I then added a blue sweater that came from GAP, however I couldn't find one for you from there this year, so below there's a link to one from Zara, and it has elbow patches. So cute. I've had a Zara sweater for him before, and it's good quality. A blue sweater is totally re-wearable without looking like a gnome.

Those boots? $15 at Wal-mart and in all sizes. They're called "chore boots." Re-wearable!

As a matter of fact, I plan on buying the pants and boots all over again for Jack's fall wardrobe simply because they are closet staples, and he outgrew last year's.

(Links to these items are all below the collage.)

Being Mrs. Gentry's Super Easy Gnome Costume

The hat is where you have to make any effort, as you can't just click "Add to shopping cart," followed by "Check out." A quick trip to Hobby Lobby yielded a yard of the stiffest red felt I could find, some fusible interfacing (don't be scared if you're not a seamstress!) to make it stiffer, and elastic. Mr. G stopped by our local costume warehouse and grabbed a white beard.

I followed this tutorial for the pattern of the hat. It tells you how to measure the head and all that technical stuff. After I cut out the felt, I ironed on the fusible interfacing (see, that's not scary), and hand stitched the hat together. The internet is so magical that I even found you a handstitching tutorial here. I then hand stitched the elastic on (it will look like a giant party hat) before tacking on the beard (more hand stitching.)

I had to trim the beard down a bit, but it was much easier than buying some fake fur or what not from Hobby Lobby. (Believe me, I tried. Don't be tempted. It was a mess.) I also cut the mustache off. We were dealing with a toddler, you understand.

I made the hat about 2 hours before we went to our church's fall festival. It took maybe 20 minutes. (Cleaning up the failed fake white fur mess took a bit longer.)

See? Super easy.

I hope this helps another crazy busy mama who's looking for a cute and unique costume!

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