Friday, July 29, 2016

Had To Buy It

I was killing time at Target this past week while the kiddos were at VBS.  I've been trying to stay out of the clothes section while I define and whittle down my capsule wardrobe.  But then I walked past a shirt by Who What Wear.  The online Target picture is in white and terribly oversized.  Ignore it, and go straight to the black version.

I ended up buying a small which isn't as long as the picture above, but fits much, much better.  My normal size is generally a large so that gives you an idea to size way down.  The black is gorgeous, the lace detailing and high collar super unique.  A great addition to my wardrobe.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Hello Gorgeous

I use Pinterest mostly like a search engine, looking for specific things rather than just randomly searching for inspiration. Lately it's been all about essential oil uses and fall capsule wardrobes. But I had so much fun looking at some of my pins that I thought I'd post a few home ones.

natural with white:
Love everything about this, so calm and soothing.  Can't find the original link for this image.

Sectional sofas can turn room layouts into an almost impossible puzzle. However, with these tips, each piece can be beautifully put together.:
This has to be one of my favorite rooms, and inspired my own large map hanging on my wall.  

Live Edge Inspired Headboard Tutorial:
Loving this moody vibe for a bedroom, especially that amazing diy headboard.  Seriously contemplating painting our bedroom dark and copying this.  Tutorial here.

Lacquered Walls
Love this look for a library.  I just purchases a maroon fake leather couch from the goodwill for ours and am excited to pull it together slowly.  Best $20 I've spent in a long time.

Shared kids room:
Still one of my favorite kid images ever.  Would love to do this with ours who share but their rooms just aren't big enough for side by side beds.  All the color is so fun, and Owen is begging for a change to his room that we haven't touched since we moved in.  Think blue patterned paint on the walls....

Saturday, July 23, 2016


If you follow even a few fashion blogs you've probably already heard about the Nordstrom sale where they steeply discount fall items now.  And while I'm not a fan of the crazy where people go nuts and spend tons of money, I'm willing to look and if there happens to be something that I am looking for at a price I can afford, I'll buy it.  The sale recently opened up to the public so I thought I'd post what I'd order.  But it's worth noting that most of my picks are slightly out of my budget!

Frye Melissa Button Leather Riding Boot
Product Image, click to zoom

At $246 on sale these are definitely an investment, but the reviews say they're awesome and last forever.  Quite possibly may be the lat pair you have to buy.

Pendleton Hooded Rain Coat
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I don't need this at all, but it makes me think fondly of some day actually doing that Ireland trip. $176

Zella Live In Leggings

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These are actually in my cart.  At $33 on sale for leggings, I still think that's steep, but I have routinely seen these touted as the best, and am willing to give it a go.

Lush Perfect Roll Tab Sleeve Tunic

Product Image, click to zoom

Also in my cart, and while technically on sale at $27, not a part of the anniversary sale.  I have this in olive green and I love it, couldn't resist in black.  I'll be ordering the medium and large to see the size difference.  My current shirt is large but am thinking I can possibly size down.  And returns are always free at Nordstrom.

Thread and Supply Vest
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Currently sold out, but if you love it check back frequently, things often come in stock.  It was available in my size yesterday and I forgot about it.  Gone today.  $37

Caslon Relaxed Slub Knit Tee

Product Image, click to zoom

I don't typically wear a lot of light colors, but there's something about this blue that makes me happy. $17.90 isn't exactly cheap for a t-shirt, but possibly worth buying and trying knowing you can return it if you don't love the quality.  Comes in 14 colors if this isn't your jam.  Runs big so size down.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Brewing Kombucha

Chances are you've at least heard of Kombucha or seen bottles of it at the grocery store.

If you don't know what it is, it's basically fermented tea.  Which sounds boring and mundane but get a look at the Scoby that causes the fermentation.

I kind of liken it to a jelly fish.  It's basically a combination of bacteria and yeast.  It ferments your tea with a little bit of sugar on your counter and turns into a bubbly, delicious-if-slightly-odd-tasting drink.  Especially if you ferment again with fruit.

Here's a picture of it on my counter.  The Scoby mother is in the large jars and the smaller mason jars have fruit in them with the tea for more flavoring.

I loosely follow this flow chart when making my kombucha.  This is all new for us, but so far we are really liking it.  It seems like a good replacement for pop if you drink that.  We don't but it's just nice to have a fizzy, yummy tasting drink.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Reading List 9/10th grade

There are lots of awesome reading lists for the college bound on Pinterest.  Just enter those words and you are golden.  And although she is technically doing British Literature (which is often done in 10th grade) through Alpha and Omega, I made a list for her that I am expecting as well (not all British, just good books)

What makes this even better is that 'ord' means 'word' or 'words' in swedish, danish and norwegian ;):

She has 12, one for each month and can do them in whatever order she pleases.

Jane Eyre-  English
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea-  French
The Count of Monte Cristo-   French
Emma-  English
My Antonia-  American
Watership Down-  English
Walden-  American
Gulliver's Travels-  Irish
Lord of the Flies-  English
Fahrenheit 451-  American
The Hobbit-  English  (via South Africa)
Frankenstein-  English

I don't require book reviews because I think they ruin the reading experience and have made many people who would have been readers despise it.  As long as she finishes one big book per month she can read whatever else she wants to.  In her world that pretty much amounts to reading and rereading Harry Potter.....

Monday, July 11, 2016

School Year Starts!

We officially start our 2016/17 school year today.

I have one 9/10th grader.  One fourth grader.  Two first graders and one kindergartner.

Seriously people... When you look me up and down like you are looking for some kinda mutation, it makes me want to become antisocial.:

Funny, and probably a little bit true.

One of the big reasons we homeschool is I extremely dislike common core.  So here's some humor at the expense of that.

First car built using common core math:

Void of common sense!:


Teacher Logic. Who cares if I solved it backwards? I got it right! In a more creative way! I should get extra points!:

Friday, July 8, 2016

Thinking Fall

Probably I should seek some help because about this time every year I long for fall.  Cooler temperatures, better clothes, fires in the fireplace, windy days that get you all excited....

Printable Fall Art | Download full resolution art at
Fall print, good year-round reminder.

It seems so American to not be happy where you are and constantly wishing for the next season. Except for winter, I'll pine away for fall, but never for winter, yuck.  Too bad you can't have fall without winter.

I've been bitten by the Ireland bug again.  Two girlfriends and I were supposed to go the spring we moved.  I had done all the research and bought red Hunter boots for the trip and never went.  :(  I was wasting time on the internet the other day when I saw someone who had gone to Ireland.  She was wearing these boots.

The Dublin Tall River Boot.  Yes please.  They are waterproof and breathable, and just in case you are a horse rider, stirrup friendly.  At $199.99 these are definitely an investment but wouldn't they just look great wandering through the Irish countryside?

I stared looking up different Dublin brand boots and came across the Dublin Turn Down Boot.

Dublin Ladies Turn Down Boots 7.5

This one appears to be retired but you can still get select sizes on Amazon along with free returns if they don't work out for you.  I actually like this option a little bit better and had accumulated Amazon points so I pulled the trigger and am waiting for them to come on Friday.  I'll let you know how they work out.

Now that I've let myself venture into fall territory which unfortunately is still several months away, I have to fight the urge to start dreaming of cardigans and all other things fall.  There's still July, August and quite possibly all of a warm September to get through....

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

What I Buy From Trader Joe's

I love Trader Joe's.  I really just enjoy walking around the store and looking at everything drinking my free coffee sample in an impossibly tiny cup.

Truth is, I don't actually buy all that much there.  It's too out of my price point for a family of 7.  But here is what I do get.

1.  Flowers

By far my favorite, inexpensive place to buy flowers.  My favorite smell is Eucalyptus, and I can buy a bunch of them for $2.99.

2.  Tea Tree & Mint Shampoo and Conditioner

I love this shampoo and conditioner.  Tea tree is great for the scalp and helps fight dandruff and mint is refreshing and my signature herb.  I've spent a lot of time researching Kembia's 4c low-porosity hair and this conditioner is one that keeps popping up as good for her.

3.  Tunisian Olive Oil in Carafe

I bought this solely for the bottle so I could keep olive oil on my cupboard in a pretty container!  We use olive oil almost exclusively and I was tired of lugging the big bottle out from under the counter.

4.  Orechiette Pasta

This is Truitt's favorite pasta because when cooked it looks like little top hats.  It's cheap too, $.99 for a pound.  We also like the orzo pasta.

5.  Midsummer's Nights Cream

Don't be fooled by the "summer" in the name.  This is definitely a winter cream, and must be seasonal because it wasn't on the shelf at my store this week.  My favorite face cream to get my sensitive facial skin through harsh winters.

If you google something like "what to buy at Trader Joe's" you can get lots of fun lists about what's good there.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Jess Reads June

The big kids were away for two weeks, and we're on summer break, so I kicked out a few more books this month.

1.  The Mad Woman Upstairs

A 2016 release, this story follows Samantha Whipple, the last of the famous Bronte line. Samantha is in England attending Oxford when copies of the Bronte books start showing up anonymously at her room.  A rumored Bronte treasure trove has followed her family's life through time.  The book had heavy references on all of the Brontes' works.  I felt a little unprepared for appreciating them since I have only read Jane Eyre.  This book was fast paced and decent.  I felt like Samantha's professor and her relationship seemed highly unlikely and unbelievable, but there was some very fascinating theories on several of the books as well as the Bronte sisters.  I don't know enough about any of them to know if the theories are legit, but it certainly makes me want to look into them.  Read it but get it from the library.

2.  The Weird Sisters

Three sisters end up home for various reasons, just in time to help their mother who is dealing with breast cancer.  All three of the girls have some fairly serious issues going on.  Add to it that their father is a famous Shakespeare scholar who pretty much uses only passages from his plays to communicate and you get an okay novel.  I've never been a fan of Shakespeare, so it was interesting to see someone use so much of it to make a modern story.  The story is written by one of the sisters perspective but she always talks about herself and the other two in first person so in the end, you never know who really is the narrator.  I found it extremely annoying and never got used to it through the whole book.  I can't figure out what the authors intent was by doing so.  This book was okay, I didn't love it but I didn't hate it.  I won't be rereading this one.

3.  Allistair Grim's Odditorium

This is a youth novel which I knew going into it and aimed at kids in grades 3-6.  Put out by Disney, I have to say my first thought was wondering if it was written with the express purchase of becoming a movie or a cartoon series.  It follows a young boy named Grubb who accidentally ends up with Allistair Grim, an interesting character who is surrounded by magical things.  Grubb sets a crazy race in motion when a magical watch ends up in his pocket when he's outside of the special building the magical things are supposed to stay inside of.  People say that there are a lot of Harry Potter elements in it, which I was actually hoping for.  In the end I didn't really feel that way about it.  Usually, I love children's novels, they can be such a breath of fresh air after some heavier reading, but this one was only okay.  Kids will like it a lot, but adults who also like children't literature will find it lacking somewhat.  There's a second novel, after a fairly decent cliffhanger at the end, but it's not on my list of to-be-read books.

4.  Through the Looking Glass
  Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass (Barnes & Noble Collectible Editions)
I have this exact copy from Barnes and Noble.  Love it.  It's technically flexibound, but has all the original drawings and good, thick paper.  I read this book at least once a year.  At this point in the game if people haven't heard of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, I don't have much to say!

5.  Matilda

I have a confession to make- I don't really read Roald Dahl.  I've just never gotten around to it.  But Matilda is definitely one of my favorite children's books.  I always wanted to be a genius child who could move things with my eyes.  And her family!  Pretty sure there isn't a worse one.  (Although Harry Potter's aunt and uncle are definitely in the running!)  My older kids loved this book, but the movie terrified them.  But of course Ms. Trunchbull will do that to anyone.

6.  Passenger

A 2016 release, I've seen this one hyped up a bit on several different blogs.  It follows Etta, a 17 year old violin virtuoso who unbeknownst to her can travel through time.  She ends up in a different time trying to figure out how she got there, stuff about her family and how to find an object that another time traveling family wants.  I love the time travel stuff and that was the main reason I wanted to read it.  The book fell flat for me for the most part though, which is disappointing because I think it could have been really good.  One of the biggest issues is Etta's age.  At 17 I think we would all consider her fairly young.  But she has such advanced moral feelings and thoughts in her decision making that it was extremely hard to believe.  Seventeen year old sheltered girls do not think and make choices like she does.  She also falls in love fairly quickly in the book which you kind of see coming but it would have been good for it to build to that instead of essentially insta-love.  Her love interest is black though, and from a time period where a biracial relationship never would have been allowed so I do appreciate that as a momma to black kids myself.  And then, of course, this book doesn't end at the last page.  Turns out there will be a sequel some time in the future.  For the love of all things holy, can't anyone write a stand-alone book anymore?

7.  Emmy and Oliver

This book is actually a cute concept about two children aged 7 that are best friends, when the boy gets take by his dad and disappears.  Fast forward 10 years he's found and brought back to his mother and old community and we follow him trying to live life with the people he would have had his dad never kidnapped him.  Emmy was super affected by his kidnapping as well as her parents who basically try to shelter her from everything.  Her last memory of Oliver is a note passed where he essentially checked yes or no if he "liked" Emmy.  He circles yes.  When she sees him all these years later she focuses on that and if they are meant to pick up where they left off and most likely would have if he had never gone.  Overall I really liked this book, however I have a rather large caveat. Aimed at grades 9 and up, there is some mature content in this one, enough that I won't let Ava read it.  Under age drinking and drugs, as well as multiple references to one gay character having sex with his new boyfriend all make an appearance in this book.  And while some may argue that it's just high school stuff, I am no fan of normalizing poor behavior and choices.  This book would have been just fine without all of that.

8.  Lessons From Madame Chic

I love this book.  It follows an American exchange student in Paris who's host family teaches her all about living the best life possible always.  This isn't my first read through this, but I completely enjoyed it again this round.  You will laugh as she talks about using her host family's rectal thermometer in her mouth and all of the other faux pas she makes as she lives in Paris and transforms how she thinks about life.  It's essentially lessons that she learned and how to apply them to your everyday American life.  She touches on clothes, always wearing what fits you best, bringing down your choices, getting rid of clothes with holes, etc. to using your fine china because everyday should be beautiful and appreciated.  I'm not making it sound very good, but trust me, you will want to read this book.  Probably even buy it, I sure did!

9.  A Wrinkle In Time and A Wind in the Door
A Wrinkle in Time Trilogy (Barnes & Noble Collectible Editions): A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, and A Swiftly Tilting Planet
Confession:  I read A Wrinkle in Time when I was young and loved it, but had no idea it was a trilogy until I saw this copy at my local Barnes and Noble.  Enter forehead slap.  Still working on the last book, but I have to say I love these!  And oh my goodness, I don't really think for kids.  My kids would have nightmares.  I am super intrigued by Madeline L'Engle and want to look at everything else she's written.  I think I would have liked to have known her.  The books focus on one family with extraordinary abilities and the things that happen to them over the course of several years.  For books written in the 1970's I feel like her knowledge on theoretical space physics and mitochondrial science are astonishing.  Especially since the next book I am talking about focuses on cancer and mitochondrial issues.  It was a bizarre gap between two books you'd normally never think about the other at the same time.

10.  Tripping Over the Truth

This is an interesting one.  It focuses on an older theory that cancer is in fact not a genetic disorder caused by mutations, but a theory that it's caused by diet and how cancer ferments glucose.  Essentially, that diets high in sugar promote cancer growth.  It's an idea that the cancer community has been unwilling to except, but in light of a huge cancer program to map all the cancer genomes proved unable to show any consistent markers in people for cancer, has forced researchers to keep looking.  This is definitely a minority position in the world of cancer researchers but even James Watson, half of the discoverers of the DNA double helix has come out in the last few years and said that metabolism of sugar and cancer is a link we need to study.  This is in direct contrast to his previous position on cancer.  Pretty much all of the cancer funding is focused on genetic issues for cancer.  The book talks about how cancer treatment has essentially stayed the same since WWII and the accidental discovery of poisons to use as chemotherapy to beat down a person's cells and start from scratch hopefully back to health.  It also goes through heartbreaking statistics that in the last 50 years we have not increased the cancer survival rate,  the death rate has in fact grown by 9%.   It also delves into how cancer drugs are approved the FDA.  They really only need to shrink a tumor for 28 days to be approved.  That's it.  If the tumors grow back it doesn't matter, all they need to show is some type of shrinkage for a short amount of time.  There has been a push to target combo chemotherapy drugs to people for specific types of cancer of the last decade or so.  There have been approximately 700 different types of specific drugs targeted at specific cancers, and none of them have been cured.  Heartbreaking to read, especially since most of us know someone who has been affected with cancer and many of us will fight this battle at some point in our lives.  It's definitely a theory that needs to be tested more thoroughly.

Jess Reads May
Jess Reads April
Jess Reads March
Jess Reads February
Jess Reads January