Happy List: #48

Hurray! You survived another week!

On Monday I shared another round of what my kids are reading. I’m really glad my kids still enjoy me reading out loud to them. It’s not a season that will last forever, so I’m soaking it up now.

I also shared another round of Would I Make It Again? This time it was a recipe for Korean Beef and adding it into the dinner rotation was a no brainer!

Here are a few things that made me smile or feel inspired this week.


Guys. I might be feeling sentimental, but I just read about THE SWEETEST Christmas tradition for daughters.

Sorry, boys. You’re out of luck on this one.

Sarah from She Holds Dearly makes pillowcase nightgowns for her girls every Christmas and puts them in their stockings. Are you dying from how unique and special this is too?

Based on the pictures from her site, she’s not using SpongeBob pillowcases either! In a world and season full of commercialism, I find this idea very charming.

(image: She Holds Dearly)


When I saw the article from Epicurious about what to do when you get home from the grocery store, I’ll admit I jumped on that click bait. The tips were pretty good and some of the things I already do.

My number one tip was NOT on the list, however. Want to know what I do? I wash my hands. I do this whenever I get home, actually. I’m convinced after touching the germy grocery carts and all the other germ-riddled things that this helps me not get sick quite as often. I don’t know if it does, but now you know one of my quirks. Yes, I have more than one.

And because I needed a picture, here’s one of an egg from my Instagram feed.

Isn't this the prettiest egg? In Ireland, eggs are not refrigerated. In the U.S., eggs are washed and chemically sanitized to prevent salmonella. After which, they must be refrigerated. The EU strives to produce clean eggs at the point of collection through free-range systems. In addition, science suggests washing the eggs can damage the shell's cuticle which can make it easier for bacteria to penetrate. So eggs are not washed in Ireland and do not need to be refrigerated. Two different ways of doing things and it is interesting to learn about the why's. Bottom line, thank your farmer! ❤ • • #egg #eggs #ireland #irisheggs #freerangeeggs #freerangeegg #chickenfarming #agriculture #knowwhereyourfoodcomesfrom #browneggs #brownegg #thankafarmer #thankafarmerforyournextmeal #foodaroundtheworld #sustainablefood #sustainablefarming

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Marian from Miss Mustard Seed shared her tips for baking gingerbread – especially as it relates to decorating.

There’s no way I’m making custom houses – look how cute this one is! – but now I’m mulling over the idea of making ornaments.

(image: Miss Mustard Seed)


I’m not super into pink. Case in point, I dressed my newborn daughter in blue to come home from the hospital.

The pink pumpkins on the I Spy DIY Thanksgiving table have me reconsidering my stance.

(image: I Spy DIY)


I’m not a calendar girl. It’s just not my thing.

However, this perpetual calendar from TAIT Design Co. caught my eye because it looks more like art than a calendar.

In the right space, it could be cool: office, kid room, classroom.

This revelation had me searching for other perpetual calendars that looked more like art.

I found this one by Sensory Play. If Etsy isn’t your jam, it looks like they also sell it on Amazon for the same price.

But what REALLY made my heart swoon were all the vintage desktop perpetual calendars. Especially the ones made out of brass like this one from The Ocean Blue Co on Etsy.

They only had one, but other sellers had similar ones. Someone tell Handy Husband because this would be great in my Christmas stocking!


If you have texture on your newly drywalled walls, then this dust removal tip from Vintage Revivals might be worth trying.

I can’t vouch for it myself, but it makes sense. This won’t work if you’ve only taped and mudded the seams.

(image: Vintage Revivals)

By the way, I’ve been following along with Mandi’s journey as they turn an old mercantile into their home and it’s pretty fascinating.


There’s a lot to appreciate in this photo from The Little White Farmhouse.

I’d love to paint a dresser like this one.

The greenery is the perfect touch for the holidays.

I love the combo of white and wood elements.

(image: The Little White Farmhouse)


Guys! I have a giant chalkboard!!! I might have to do this.

At the very least, this is a super cute way to wrap presents.

(image: Marian Parsons for HGTV)


Who’s going to a cookie exchange?!?!

Sorry – I’m not raising my hand on this one. I haven’t ‘been invited to one, but if I was, I’d make these Chewy Coconut Cookies.

If they are half as good as this picture looks…

(image: Cake Whiz)

I wonder how they taste cold? Sounds like something I should research.


This wreath from Less Than Perfect Life of Bliss speaks my language.

(image: Less Than Perfect Life of Bliss)

Happy Friday, everyone! Enjoy your weekend. It’s almost Thanksgiving. EEK!

Would I Make It Again? – Korean Beef Bowl

Sometimes I ask my kids what they want for dinner when I’m not sure what to cook.

I don’t know why I ask these things!

Their answers are always predictable and not something that counts as “well balanced for a Tuesday night when I’m still making an effort with this dinner thing.”

By Thursday Friday night all bets are off though.

When I don’t know what to cook, I cook tacos fall back on my staple of go-to recipes.

Spoiler Alert! This Korean Beef Bowl recipe by Damn Delicious has become one of my go-to recipes. I’m probably making it twice a month now.

(image: Damn Delicious)

Now, I’m a mom who is responsible for everyone’s digestive health. Fiber is important y’all.

I’m also a mom who likes to keep things simple. One pan meals speak to my soul.

That’s why I take this particular recipe and add veggies to it.

Whatever I have in my refrigerator at the time works.

Last week when I made it I even grated a zucchini into the pan with the meat and no one noticed. If someone does ask what that “green stuff” is, I just say “seasoning.” Tricky, tricky!

Other than adding veggies, I don’t tweak the recipe at all, which is a rare thing for me to say.

Would I make this recipe again? YES.

Should you make it?

If you’re in the mood for a little something sweet for dinner, then yes.

If you want a recipe that’s adaptable and forgiving, then yes.

If you want a recipe that reheats pretty decently for lunch the next day, then yes.

If you need a new way to cook ground beef, then yes.

My picture isn’t as pretty as the one from the recipe and we didn’t eat it with chopsticks, but I guarantee you it tastes delicious!

My tip would be to double the sauce part of the recipe – especially if you add veggies. I like things saucy!

No matter how you make it, just do it. You’ll be happy you did.

Again, here’s the Korean Beef Bowl recipe from Damn Delicious.

Other posts in the Would I Make It Again? series:

Rhubarb Scones











Books My Kids Are Reading Part 6

Books, books and more books!

Welcome back to what has become an on-going series sharing the children’s books my kids and I are reading.

Before I get to the list of books we’ve enjoyed recently, I want to show you a neat booklet our local Irish library system publishes. It is a reading guide for different age groups from toddlers up to young adults. It includes both fiction and non-fiction recommendations.

The library must have a fairly robust budget to produce this booklet and I have no complaints about that!

The reading guide is compiled by a group of ‘book doctors’ who are all children’s book specialists. They have backgrounds in writing, editing, library science, bookselling or literature. Some of the book doctors have masters or doctorate degrees.

One of the book doctors is the reader-in-residence for Dublin City Libraries. How do I get that job?!?!

The book doctors don’t operate in a vacuum. They hold clinics throughout the year to meet with young people to get their feedback on what they enjoy reading.

As far as literacy and community engagement goes, I think this is a very worthwhile endeavor.

Now on with the show!

Here are the recently read books my kids, ages 7 and 10, would give two thumbs up!

Wed Wabbit by Lissa Evans

This book was such an unexpected surprise.

It started out with a pretty horrific scene. You know how you tell your kids NEVER to chase a ball into the street? Yeah. Well, something like that happened. I was thinking, “Oh no! This book is going to be so dark and terrible. What have I done?”

Yet, it wasn’t. It was such a strange, creative tale. It was filled with creatures who only spoke in verse, so it made reading it a lot of fun. My kids kept guessing what would happen next. It was a great adventure story with a strong bit of moral and emotional closure in the last chapter.

Thankfully, the book had a completely happy ending, which is how I like books to end!

The Curse of Herobrine: The Ultimate Minecraft Comic Book Volume 1 by Zack Zombie Comics

If you order this book and know nothing about Minecraft, this book will make no sense to you. You’ll be a hero, but you’ll have no idea why. You’ll be asking yourself, “What in the world is going on with this crazy Minecraft thing? These creatures look evil and why are there so many blocks?”

Just go with it. I know a little about Minecraft because my kids play and I still ask myself these things.

We’ve had The Curse of Herobrine for awhile (It was my daughter’s book. Minecraft is equally loved by girls and boys.), but just recently my son picked it up and this happened one morning…

I seriously had to check and see if the sky was falling.

He still reads out loud, so I heard the entire book for the umpteenth time. Then he asked me for the next two books in the series and he never asks me for books.

You can bet I jumped on that opportunity! A few days later these arrived:

Steve and the Swamp Witch of Endor: The Ultimate Minecraft Comic Book Volume 2 (An Unofficial Minecraft Comic Book)


Minecraft: The Wither Attacks! – The Ultimate Minecraft Comic Book Volume 3 (A Graphic Novel)

Even though I don’t “get” the story line of these books, I have found something to enjoy! These particular graphic novels have a lot of characters, so we each picked a different character to read out loud. I encourage my kids to read in the character’s voice. So if the character is an old man, use an old man voice. If the character is a big tough guy, use that kind of voice.

It takes a different level of reading comprehension to not only read the words, but to read them in character and to know when it is your turn to read. While my kids think it’s just a fun thing we do (and it is), there’s also some skill building going on too.

The Puppy Who Wanted a Boy by Jane Thayer

The kids’ grandma introduced me to this story and it is the most darling Christmas book.

Fair warning – it may make you want to cry, it is so sweet.

It is about a puppy who wants a boy for Christmas. He tries so hard to find one, but it does not go well. It seems all the boys are taken by other dogs. The puppy is exhausted and ready to give up and then an amazing thing happens!

I don’t want to spoil the ending…that’s the tearjerker part!

This book doesn’t appear to be in print any longer, but you can buy used copies online. Ours was used, but in great shape. If you do buy it, it will be one you’ll want to keep. The story is as good now as the day it was written in 1958! If you see it at the library, definitely check it out!

Incredible Incas (Horrible Histories) by Terry Deary

This is the second Horrible Histories book we’ve read. I’m STILL surprised the kids enjoy them so much because they are fairly wordy and full of hard names and dates.

Perhaps I’m underestimating my kids!

The author does a really good job of writing in a way that grabs their attention though. The Incas did some pretty terrible, disgusting things with urine and, of course, my kids thought that was fascinating.

This book also introduced them to how diabolical the Spaniards were in taking over the Incan empire. This is important because history is often presented in a very one-sided way and in this case, both the Incas and the Spaniards did terrible things to each other.

I don’t know that a kid would be super excited to get this book for Christmas, but if you want to introduce them to a version of history that isn’t dry and boring, this series fits that bill. We are currently reading our third Horrible Histories book about the Greeks.

Star Wars: Jedi Academy, Return of the Padawan (Book 2) by Jeffrey Brown

If you have a kid who is interested in Star Wars, this book will be right up their alley.

It follows Roan, a kid who starts middle school at a Jedi Academy. The book is told from his perspective and is an interesting mix of part diary, part comic book, part newspaper, part letters from home.

Some of the pages are pretty text heavy for my 7-year-old, but this wouldn’t bother older kids at all. As far as the middle school setting goes – there are a few references to liking a girl, but nothing that, so far, has seemed inappropriate for either of my kids. 

While it’s not completely mandatory to start with book one in this series, it will make a lot more sense to read Star Wars: Jedi Academy first. I think there are at least 4 books, so far, in the series.

If your kiddo loves Star Wars, but is still a beginning or reluctant reader, this set of Star Wars Phonics Books was INCREDIBLE and would be a good alternative to the Jedi Academy books.

Tassie and the Black Baron by Katie Roy

I’ve always wanted to describe a book as a ‘wild romp’ and I think I’ve finally found a book where I can bust out that phrase!

Time travel. A historical setting. A clever heroine. All of these things can be found in this book.

If you’ve ever gone on a boring tour of a castle or a historic home, you’ve probably looked at those old portraits on the wall and wondered what life might have been like hundreds of years ago. Well, now imagine that you got sucked back into that time period and were needed to save the day! That’s this book!

My kids were always surprised by the main character’s creative problem solving skills and I love a book that keeps them (and me) guessing and laughing.

Matilda by Roald Dahl

I’m a wee bit embarrassed to admit that this Matilda book came from a McDonald’s Happy Meal. However, this is one Happy Meal “toy” I am glad to keep.

Any Roald Dahl book is good and this one should be on your reading list. Don’t just let your kids watch the movie!

The Invisible Man’s Socks by Alex Shearer

The premise for this book is wild. A class goes on a field trip to a museum of horrors. Think of things like the poison pen, the hair from Bigfoot, vampire teeth, etc. All the things we like to pretend are real, but aren’t. Or are they?

The kids are told NOT TO TOUCH, but of course, everyone, including the teachers touch the museum relics.

That’s when the weird things start happening. Figuring out what is happening, why and how to reverse the damage is the journey the characters will embark on.

We had great fun trying to guess what was happening to each character and who they might be turning into. I could have done without the character who put on the strangler’s gloves though.

The one drag I found about this book is that there were a lot of characters, so the author kept repeating some basic information about each one. This made the book a bit more tedious to read out loud. My kids didn’t seem to notice though.

That’s it for this round!

As always, I’m happy to learn about other books my kids might enjoy! Do share!

Here are past posts on children’s books we LOVE

  1. Books My Kids Are Reading Part 5
  2. Books My Kids Are Reading Part 4
  3. Books My Kids Are Reading Part 3
  4. Books My Kids Are Reading Part 2
  5. Books My Kids Are Reading Now (Part 1)
  6. Two Children’s Books That Made My Eyes Leak – Cried my eyes out. Still my favorite books.
  7. Star Wars Phonics Books – These worked miracles at encouraging my son to read.

Affiliate links to Amazon used in this post. Thanks for your support. You guys rock! 

Happy List: #47

It’s starting – just starting – to feel like winter where I live and basically my response is NOOOOO!

But enough about my issues.

This week I shared a glimpse into my married life a recipe for Rhubarb Scones. That sentence makes no sense unless you read the post about Rhubarb Scones. Also, all the rhubarb lovers came out of the woodwork. There are so many of you! Who knew?

I also shared another story from the train. Several months ago I shared this one, which was pretty deep because we talked about my least favorite 4-letter word – hate. This time the conversation was all about superpowers. Kids have a refreshing way of viewing the world and that’s really what this story was all about.

Here are some things that made me pause in my scroll this week.


In general, I tend to be drawn to the character of older homes.

However, if I was to build another new home, I’m 92% certain I would prefer it to be in the style of a modern farmhouse like this one.

By the way, I just discovered this Instagram account – Christiandawdesign – and it has a ton of exterior home eye candy.

Also, check out the cool house number sign in the bottom left of the photo.

💁🏻‍♂️So I was chatting with a local builder yesterday (who also happens to be follower) about #boardandbatten and the #moderfarmhouse style… there’s more to come… 🙋🏻‍♂️Anyways, I love this example by Andy Friesen. 🙆🏻‍♂️Ah, check out that cedar #pergola 🙏🏼Happy Friday!. . . . . . 💁🏻‍♂️Just an attorney with a passion for beautiful homes and a little design business on the side! 🙋🏻‍♂️Check out my feed and say hi! #architecture #hgtv #houzz #southernliving #architecturaldigest #designinspo #modernfarmhousestyle #traditionalhome #chipandjoannagaines #luxuryhomes #interiordesign #exteriordesign #christiandawdesign #homesweethome #decorinspo #renovation #dreamhome #charminghome #beautifulhomes #homeblogger #interiorinspo #fixerupperstyle #designbuild #interiordesigner #homelove #lovewhereyoudwell #fixerupper

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Autumn is not over and I just spied this awesome tempered glass cutting board on Amazon. It looks like a chalkboard! How cool is that?

It would be so cute propped up on your counter. For less than 20 bucks it would also make an awesome hostess gift if you’re doing Thanksgiving at someone else’s house.


Why is it the simplest things are often the most brilliant?

I love this idea for Christmas decorating from Country Living.

I think this would work even if your pillows aren’t Christmas colors.



If you are patient and a bit crafty, you could make coasters that look like Polaroid pictures! All you need are your Instagram (or any) photos, white ceramic tiles and some glue/sealant.

Get all the details and a ton of helpful tips from Darkroom and Dearly.

This would make a great Christmas gift!

(image: Darkroom and Dearly)


I was searching for something else (isn’t that always the case) and got sidetracked by this idea for turning a handsaw into art by OlySignCo. on Etsy.

I don’t know that it would work in my house, but in someone else’s house it would look super neat!



I have no idea where this is or why it was done, but it just looks neat. Doesn’t it?


Handy Husband needs an under $20 gift for his office holiday party and we found the best white elephant gift of all time!

How can you beat this unicorn wine holder from Amazon? It is TERRIBLE and terribly amazing. I’d never want to receive this, but I’d love to give it as a gag gift! This will be the gift that keeps getting recirculated every year. It’s that good.


This Fall Farmers Market Salad from What’s Gaby Cooking looks divine.

(image: What’s Gaby Cooking)


I haven’t done anything with my mom’s crocheted doilies and other handwork, but this idea gave me all the feels.

Sarah from She Holds Dearly used a crocheted (at least I think that’s crochet) table runner to embellish her curtains. How clever is that?

(image: She Holds Dearly)


If you’re not following me on Instagram yet, come join the fun!

If you’re taking a break from social media – I don’t blame you – but you can always see what’s going on by clicking here.

Have the happiest of Fridays, everyone!

Kid Wisdom: Everyday Superpowers

Picture it.

The kids and I are on a packed commuter train at 8:27 a.m.

We’re standing, of course, because it’s a Monday morning and everyone has to get to work on time on a Monday. By Friday they won’t care as much and the train will be less crowded.

I’m wearing my son’s backpack because 2nd grade homework is HEAVY and holding my own backpack with my left hand. With my right hand I’m holding onto one of the vertical bars to keep my balance as the train stops and starts.

The kids are clustered next to me attempting whatever movement they can get away with in a packed train car without getting the death glare from yours truly.

You might not know this, but packed trains get hot. Hot trains mean people start sweating. Sweaty people mean the train car is going to smell. Smelly train cars mean one of my children is going to loudly mention the train car STINKS while demonstrating its stinkiness by plugging their nose and gesturing wildly.

Despite all the people, the train is pretty quiet. No one talks to the strangers they see every day. Earbuds are in. Newspapers are read. Social media is given its likes, loves and shares. There’s a middle-aged man playing Pokémon Go on his phone. The young guy in a suit is eating his second apple. I know it’s his second because I saw him put the core of the first one in his pocket.

Without an inkling of warning, my 7-year-old stops poking his sister on the sleeve, looks up at me and says, “Mom, I think every person has a superpower. They just might not know it yet because it’s way deep down inside them.” He points to his belly as he says this. Then he continues,“They need to believe in themselves so it can come out, you know?”

Kids always pick the best moments for a deep conversation, don’t they?

My son, with the innocence of youth, was initially talking about comic book superhero-type powers. I didn’t want to crush his dreams because I too think it would solve a lot of problems if we could teleport and this world needs people who dream big.

However, he had voiced a truth so profound that I wanted to connect his insight to something tangible in the here and now.

So we talked about what everyday superpowers might look like: generosity, kindness, perseverance, listening, teaching, empathy, standing up to bullies.

We talked about his best friend in Georgia who can run really fast. That’s a pretty cool superpower, but it’s what he does with his superpower that makes it special. He encourages others on his track team to run fast too. To not give up. To finish the race even when they are tired. This friend is using his superpower for good when he could just as easily use it for evil with arrogance and conceit.

Then just like that it was 8:32 a.m. and the train pulled up to our station. Happy to have arrived at our destination, we fought our way out against the tide of people rushing in.

Then my 7-year-old, gesturing in general to the outdoors, said the second most profound thing of the morning.

“It sure smells better out here.”

P.S. If there is someone out there that doesn’t believe they have a superpower – that they can shine in some way in their lives – I’d be happy to introduce them to my 7-year-old. He’ll remind them that way down deep they certainly do.



Would I Make It Again? – Rhubarb Scones

I cook most everyday because it’s socially unacceptable to let my kids eat cereal for every meal the people in my family are always hungry.

Okay, fine. I’m always hungry too. The kids definitely take after me in this regard.

Sometimes I try a new recipe and think, “This would be fun to share with my blog friends.” I might even snap a picture of it, but then I never go on to share it because I only cooked or baked it once. I didn’t test the recipe. I didn’t make it uniquely mine. I didn’t do any of the things actual food blogs do to make sure a recipe is worth sharing.

Probably because this isn’t a food blog. But sometimes I do talk about food. You know I’m thinking about it!

I’m telling you this because I’m going to share some recipes in a new way. If I make something and feel like writing about it – this blog’s content is all about my whims, after all – I’m going to take you along on the journey and let you know if I would make the recipe again. That, my friends, is the true test of a recipe’s staying power – not whether or not it tasted good.

I really wish I had some theme music to cue this one up, but without further ado, here’s the first installment in Would I Make It Again? 

I don’t know anyone who LOVES rhubarb. Do you?

I know these mythical people are out there, but I haven’t met one yet.

I know plenty of people who are okay with rhubarb or indifferent to it or flat-out abhor it, as is Handy Husband’s opinion.

Opinions abound, but I was gifted a bag of frozen rhubarb. And I never turn down free food.

The lady who gave it to me had even diced it up. How nice is that? Seriously nice.

But then I had to figure out what to do with it. By ‘figure out,’ I mean trick Handy Husband into eating it. We’ve been married a long time and I can’t remember exactly, but it seems to me one of my marriage vows was to keep him on his toes.

Deep down, I’m sure he appreciates this about me.

Adding the rhubarb to a pie was the obvious choice.

Handy Husband is smart though. He’d catch onto that one quickly.

I eventually landed on scones. Scones are a normal bakery staple here in Ireland, so I’ve enjoyed some tasty ones. Let’s call all those trips to the bakery “research,” shall we?

I found this recipe for Rhubarb Scones from Taste of Home and it looked worth trying. One of the ingredients was something I wouldn’t normally keep on hand, so I subbed it out, but other than that, the recipe wasn’t complicated.

So, would I make rhubarb scones again? 

You want a yes or no answer, don’t you?

All of the sudden I see how this plan of mine is backfiring. Hmm…

Yes, I would include rhubarb in scones. Yes, these were tasty – especially straight out of the oven. Handy Husband ate most of them and didn’t even realize he was eating rhubarb until I did my victory dance.

Yes, I’m shameless in this regard. I’m sure Handy Husband appreciates this about me.

I’m not convinced this particular scone recipe is my soulmate though. Mainly because I never keep an ingredient like whole wheat pastry flour in my pantry. Do you?

In all fairness, subbing out an ingredient means you’re not making the actual recipe. So take my experience with a grain of whole wheat pastry flour salt.

All in all, I’m pretty happy I experimented with something new. I don’t think I’ve ever baked with rhubarb and it was long past time I remedied that!

I still have a lot of rhubarb left though.

Handy Husband is SO excited.

Happy List: #46

Another Halloween is in the books and we are racing toward the end of the year!

The days can seem long, but the years short. Why is that?

Anyway, this week I spread the word that Talking Statues have arrived in Dublin. I also shared a hard-to-write, personal account of why I sent my kids to Catholic mass. Basically, I got up on my soapbox.

So let’s follow that up with some not-so-deep stuff. Here’s this week’s Happy List.


My grandma was the first person to take me to a museum. We went to a lot of museums and I’m sure I did not appreciate them as much as I should have. But now, as an adult, I see the tremendous value museums offer the world.

That’s why when National Geographic published a list of Best Museums in the World it caught my attention. I had no idea some of these existed!

It looks like we have some more places to add to our Travel Bucket List now!

(image: Science Museum in Valecia via cac.es)


It has never dawned on me to dye leather!

You have to hop over to Rhoda’s blog, Southern Hospitality, to see just how she did it to transform these chairs – for less than $50.

(image: Southern Hospitality)


I saw this firewood holder by Steele Street Studio on HGTV and my heart swooned.

I don’t know how practical it is, but I love the statement it makes.

I’m sure practicality is overrated anyhow.

Photo By: Shannon Lazic Photography via HGTV


Bullies aren’t happy, but tools that help deal with them are happy in my book.

One of my kids is pretty good at letting mean stuff roll off his/her back. One of my kids takes it very personally and has been dealing with some mean kids lately.

This is SO HARD to watch your kids go through. I am the mom at the playground who will yell at other people’s kids if they are being mean. However, my kids need to develop skills to help them be resilient and deal with the mean people they will encounter. Sadly, that’s real life and it doesn’t stop when you become an adult.

I showed this video by Brooks Gibbs to my kids this week after seeing it floating around Facebook. He had a really good way of explaining bullying in a way that my kids seemed to understand.

Sometimes it helps when the information doesn’t come from mom, you know?

It’s important to note that HE mentions he’s talking about verbal bullying when someone hurts your feelings. Physical contact, stealing your stuff, etc. is a different ballgame.


i read about Andrew Degraff in National Geographic and that’s when I realized I’d seen his artwork before in a ton of magazines like Slate, Sports Illustrated and Esquire.

Degraff is an illustrator and artist living in Maine and he has two books with really cool map-like illustrations. If you like his style of art, you’ll probably like these books.

I know this sounds TERRIBLE, but his illustrations are so cool I’d want to free them from the book and frame them for a media room, office, library or a kid’s room.

Cinemaps: An Atlas of 35 Great Movies was just released on Amazon. Some of the movies illustrated in the book include Lord of the Rings, The Princess Bride and Back to the Future.

This is Degraff’s illustration of Lord of the Rings from his website. The lines show the movement of the characters.

Plotted: A Literary Atlas has been out for about 2 years. Some of the literary works featured in this book include Pride and Prejudice, A Wrinkle in Time and A Christmas Carol.

Also from his website, here’s an example of one of the books illustrated in Plotted: A Literary Atlas.

At a minimum, these would make neat coffee table books for movie or reading buffs.


This is a super cool way to recycle old brooches or jewels for Christmas decor.

You could make other shapes with the jewels. An initial. A heart. A number. An animal.


This is the best use of pompoms I’ve seen in awhile. Plus, I love the shape of that basket.

Oh, and the wood floor in that picture gives me all the heart eyes.

(image: Le Joli Shop)


Someone has out DIYed us all and it is amazing. This is a driveway in Germany!

I don’t know if that’s actual wood or cleverly stamped concrete, but it’s pretty neat to look at.


This Apple Cucumber Salad by Cooking With Ruthie is on my list to make!

Doesn’t it look like autumn in a bowl?

(image: Cooking With Ruthie)

Happy Friday, friends! Enjoy the first weekend of November!



*affiliate link used in this post

We’re Not Catholic, but I Sent My Kids to Mass

My kids went to Catholic Mass today.

We’re not Catholic.

We’re American expats living in Ireland where the public school system is run by the Catholic Church with public tax dollars. Even many private schools are Catholic-influenced.

Our kids (now 7 and 10) attend a private school that is not Catholic run. As a percentage, there aren’t a lot of these schools in Ireland, but they are growing in number and popularity.

Twice a year our school offers the children an opportunity to attend a community-wide Mass during school hours. All the various primary schools in the parish attend.

Of course, as parents, we have the right to opt our kids out of this event.

I chose not to.

Here’s why.

While Catholicism is not our religion, it is the religion of almost 80% of the people in the country in which we reside. As of 2014, there were over 1.2 billion Roman Catholics in the world. Billion with a B.

That’s a lot of people.

When any religion is tightly woven into a society it impacts moral codes. It affects why people do what they do, believe what they believe, marry who they marry, vote the way they vote. Understanding not only what people believe, but why they believe it – even if you don’t – is important to building mutual respect.

While my kids are American citizens by birth, I hope when they grow up they will consider themselves to be citizens of the world. I want them to be curious about other cultures. I want them to dive into history, so they can understand how the past affects the present. I want them to be respectful of varying customs and beliefs, willing to try new foods and languages, empathetic to the struggles of others, open to listening to various viewpoints.

I’m not naive enough to think that them attending Mass twice a year is going to magically do all of these things. Of course not.

But in this instance, given our current cultural and historic surroundings, it is a start.

It is them (or them with my gentle nudge) taking the first step – making an effort toward approaching life with an open mind, thoughtful consideration and respect for others.

That’s all I ask.

Make the effort.

This is but one small example. There will be countless other ways they can make the effort to see the world from someone else’s perspective in their lifetimes.

We talked openly about this learning experience and the reasons for attending before the kids went and after. I listened to their feedback and answered their questions. Before I give you the mistaken impression that this was some sort of transcendental experience for my kids, let me keep it real. My 7-year-old thought the whole thing, which in his mind lasted 27 hours, was boring.

I’ve felt that way about many a church service, so I can’t really fault him for that.

Boring or not, my kids are learning things about the world that I didn’t have the chance to learn and embrace until I was an adult. In fact, I’m still learning.

Just imagine what could happen if instead of feeling threatened, insecure and instantly disagreeable to an idea or viewpoint that is different from ours we stopped and listened and learned. Through the course of listening and learning it is possible to remain true to your core values and find areas of common ground or at a minimum, mutual respect.

It’s not easy, but imagine how different our world might be then. Imagine how much kinder it might be. I have no doubt it is something worth striving for one human interaction at a time.

My hope is that my children will walk through life with integrity and an open mind. That they will place the well-being of humanity over the bottom line. That they will be adaptable, intellectually curious and empathetic. That their lives will be filled with purpose, meaning and happiness.

My husband and I don’t have all of the parenting answers. What works for our family might not work for another family. We’re learning as we go, figuring it out together, making changes when necessary and listening to our gut. Basically, we’re like parents everywhere trying to raise decent human beings.

Let’s hope we succeed.


Visiting Ireland: Talking Statues

If you’re visiting the Dublin area anytime soon, there’s a cool new feature in town.

Statues that talk!

And I’m not talking about the ones that ‘talk’ after you’ve spent the night at the pub.

I’m talking about ones that can call your phone.

With a lot of support, an initiative called ‘Talking Statues’ was commissioned by Sing London, whose projects “set out to connect people to each other and to the public spaces we share.”

The statues use humor and drama to tell a story and connect the listener with Dublin’s history. Plus, these stories are written and recorded by some pretty famous folks whose work you might have read, heard or seen.

10 statutes in Dublin now ‘talk’ including Oscar Wilde, James Joyce and George Bernard Shaw.

I’m excited for the next time I take my kids into the city because we have the opportunity to engage with history in a way that sounds different and fun.

If you have no plans to visit Ireland, why not never fear. There’s one city in the U.S. with 30 talking statues – Chicago.

How cool would it be to hear from The Tin Man, Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, Leif Erikson, Nicolaus Copernicus or Benito Juarez while walking around the city? Pretty cool!

Some of the people involved in Chicago’s Talking Statues are David Saltzman, Johnny Galecki, Steve Carell and David Schwimmer. Oh, you know it’s got to be good!

Sing London has also animated statues in London, Manchester, Leeds, Bedford and now Dublin.

Whether you are a tourist or a local, this is the type of engagement with history that I love. It’s free. It’s entertaining. It doesn’t take a lot of time. And you’ll probably learn something new.

Happy Travels!

Learn More: Talking Statues Dublin 

Learn More: Talking Statues

Here are more posts about visiting Ireland.

The Cliffs of Moher and the Aran Islands with Kids

Galway with Kids

Our Favorite Irish Castle Tour with Kids

Belfast with Kids



Happy List: #45

Hello again!

How was your week? I hope you knocked it out of the ballpark with your awesomeness!

This week I shared a really good rule to help keep your home tidy. This tip works best if everyone in your household abides by the rule…which may very well be the rule’s downfall.

I also shared a recipe I tried recently for Vanilla Coconut Cashews and Almonds. In other news, I’m out of Vanilla Coconut Cashews and Almonds.

Here’s this week’s mash-up of random goodness.


Speaking of goodness, has anyone made sweet potato brownies?

I love sneaking vegetables into food, so I’m super curious about this recipe for sweet potato brownies from Little Sunny Kitchen. How cute is this picture?


As a sidenote, I’ve made a sweet potato bread knot recipe that is the stuff carb dreams are made of, which pretty much sums up all of my dreams.


I like stories about kindness and building others up instead of tearing them down.

This New York Times story about how the Cubs build each other up before a game is really encouraging.

I’ve participated in activities like this before and when it is done genuinely, it can really give you a self esteem boost!

(image: Alyssa Schukar for The New York Times)


I was always too cheap frugal to buy cleaning pads for my Swiffer, so I’d use an old washcloth instead. It worked okay, but the washcloth always came undone.

However, this idea from Blue Eyed Freckle to convert an old sweater into a Swiffer cleaning pad is brilliant! She could probably sell those things. Be sure and read her how-to because she has some tips for cutting the sweater to the correct size.



If the only place for your TV is above the fireplace, but you don’t want to draw attention to the TV, consider painting your fireplace surround black.

See how the TV blends in? Just something to think about…

This image is from Cassie Bustamante and she’s got a ton of ideas on her site.



I use quinoa in my bread recipe, but it is not in regular rotation at our dinner table.

I’m not sure why.

However, I’m ready to try it in this dish from What’s Gaby Cooking.

Anyone else drooling?


The Junk Whisperer gifted me a tin of ‘Man Hands.’
I’m not sure if it was a gift or an intervention.
I’m going to go with gift.
I have the worst feet. Dry, cracked heels kind of feet. You don’t even want to see what they do to my feet when I’m getting a pedicure.
I’ve been using this Crunchy Mamas product from Oregon, my home state, for about 2 months now and I don’t even recognize my heels. They aren’t butter soft – yet, but they are a million times better than they were this summer.
Crunchy Mamas was started by two moms from my hometown in 2012. So, if you want to support a small town mama and have amazing feet (or hands) – order one of these.
And use it religiously. And exfoliate. And don’t overshare about your feet on your blog. There should be boundaries.


I’ve never thought too much about disposing of Halloween pumpkins other than to get them off the porch before they turn to moldy mush. Right?!?!
This article in INC. listed a whole bunch of ways to recycle your pumpkins in a useful and creative way.
Like by using the pumpkins as buried planters. Or as a science experiment!

By the way, my babies have grown so. darn. much. since this photo was taken.

I don’t gravitate to the ultra modern home designs. Although, I appreciate them for what they offer.
However, I love big, huge windows like the ones on this modern home.
More eye candy from this home can be found here on Fresh Home.

Photography by Stephen Goodenough

Do not say I don’t make sacrifices. I read People.com to bring you these gorgeous pictures! And I have no regrets.
Brooklyn Decker’s Austin home has an AHHH-MAZING bathroom.

Photographer: Winnie Au

What cracks me up about People‘s description of Lindsey Vonn’s Colorado home is how they called it a “cozy” 5 bedroom home.

In this instance, I think cozy means warm, not small.

Photographer: Winnie Au

I’m a fan of blue cabinets, but I haven’t decided if I like this all blue/grey kitchen.

What I do love, however, is Hayden Panettiere’s red shirt against that blue kitchen. It pops! Is that a weird thing to notice?

Photographer: Paul Costello

Anyone planning a trip to Sweden? If you are, you should consider staying in this tree hotel.
I assure you, it is far more luxurious than any treehouse you might have played in as a kid.
You might want to pack light though because that looks like a lot of stairs.
If you’d like to make a reservation or at least see all the gorgeous pictures, visit TreeHotel.se.


 Happy Friday, everyone! Enjoy your day!