Currently.

Thinking// Will my pickles turn out?

I snagged the recipe from a fellow blogger. I don’t know why I’m so…nervous about this. Overthinking it. I just need to remind myself that good things take t i m e. A wonderful lesson that can be applied to so much in this awesomely awesome life, wouldn’t ya say?

And of course, I’m also thinking about my Mads turning two. Oh, my goodness. Two. Where did the last two years go? I know, I know. When she’s 18, when she’s 30, when she’s 50,  I’ll still wonder where it all goes. And hopefully, I’ll always be able to say that it is wrapped up in wonderful memories, full of love and laughter. How can we love someone so much? Goodness.

Reading// Per recommendations from the girlfriends, I am starting If I Stay. I was told to be ready for the waterworks… Not again! Just getting over The Fault In Our Stars.

I’m also checking out one of my favorite authors, Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. I love her. I discovered her in a women’s studies class in high school and then re-discovered her in a women’s studies/religion class in college. {Yeah, I took a lot of women’s studies classes…} She keeps drifting back into my life and I’m very okay with that.

Also, I will be working my way through this list. If you have read anything on this list, thoughts/recommendations/stay-aways??

Watching// It runs about 20 minutes long but this TED Talk seems to pass in 2 minutes. A wonderful presentation from a teacher of poetry on encouraging self-expression. And to the moms out there, “B” is amazing.

 

Thankful for// Grandparents. The bond you create with them, regardless of when the relationship started or how long it lasted, can be inspirational and powerful. The keepers of the “past” and the go-to people when you need an extra hug, kiss or cookie. Life lessons learned from these folks can really transform a person. And as time marches on, as it seems to do very quickly, these magical creatures we call grandparents start to look to us for answers and stories. I’m so thankful for three amazing women I’ve had in my life, and I’m eternally grateful for the folks charged with the task of being Maddie Cakes’ grandest of parents. You guys rock.

What are you currently up to?

Linking up with A Mama Collective & When at Home

Thankful Thursday // 08

Another week winds down…and it was a little stressful. It just seems like the perfect storm begins every time we start to feel the weight of a little bit of stress. It builds and builds and builds and builds. Holy moly! Let me catch my breath. GEEZ.

At these moments, we unknowingly start to hold each other a little tighter, kiss a little longer, laugh a little louder … trying to blur out the bad and focus in on the good. So much good.

This Thursday, I’m super thankful for those extra loving and silly moments that cause this…
Thankful Thursday // 08

We chose to bask in ridiculousness, throw away the outside stress and be present in this one moment, a moment that behaves much like the stress – it’s fleeting. As we ride out this perfect {stress} storm, my loves and I will be over here enjoying all that is wonderful, magnifying the good. Because there is so much good.

Try: Release the stress and laugh extra loud // hold a hand a little tighter // walk a little closer // sing a little louder // breath a little slower.

Have a wonderful Thursday and a fantastic Friday, friends. xo

Iced Coffee + This Simple Syrup Goodness

So, I had every intention of making this cinnamon dolce syrup from Karen at Kitchen Treaty, but friends, honestly, I don’t know what happened. I suppose it was a happy accident that occurred around 5:50-ish a.m. Instead of the cinnamon in the recipe, I added in a splash {or two} of vanilla extract. And let me tell you, it was amazing! Now, I have no clue what you would even call this now, but for now, let’s just call it awesome iced coffee with this simple syrup goodness. Sounds about right…

Simple Syrup Goodness

1/4 c brown sugar
2 Tb + a lil extra pure maple syrup
1/4 c water
dash or two of vanilla extra

I combined all of the ingredients together on the stove on medium heat until all the sugar dissolved. About five minutes. When I was done, I let it cool down and hang out in its new friend. While the syrup was cooling, I dumped some ice cubes and room-temp coffee into another class. Then, I added about 2 Tb of the cooled syrup to the iced coffee.

Iced Coffee + Amazing(ly Easy) Simply Syrup

After I added the syrup, I added a splash of whole milk. Oh, the beauty!

coffee and milk make beauty

And I watched it just hang out for a minute…Iced Coffee + Amazing(ly Easy) Simply Syrup

Oh … I watched it again…Iced Coffee + Amazing(ly Easy) Simply Syrup

Finally, after just watching these guys hang out, I stirred it up and enjoyed!Iced Coffee + Amazing(ly Easy) Simply Syrup

Hope you try this out! Let me know if you like it as much as I do. Also, what do you love to add to your iced coffee? {Sweetened condensed milk is a guilty pleasure of mine!}

Linking up with the Create & Share DIY and Recipe Party and Pig and Dac- join in!

His X Factors

When I was asked how I knew J was the one for me, a million little things came to mind. Sure, he made me laugh, and he treated me with respect. He got along with my family and friends. We shared a lot of common interests {and being a fellow red-head did not hurt!}, but really, there were several other things, the X factors, that sealed the deal. These factors extended beyond the first date and really live at the core of his being. Things that make you go Z I N G ! His quirky qualities that signaled to me that this guy is a keeper. Here are the top three…

His X Factors

The X Factors

01 // His apartment did not smell.

Walking into a guy’s space and being hit with a wall of cat smell or dirty laundry smell or smoke smell or any kind of nauseating smell is a quite the opposite of warm and cuddly. As I walked the two flights to his apartment for the first time, I was slightly … terrified. Throw out any fear of this guy being a habitual nighttime sandwich maker or collector of ex-girlfriends’ locks of hair. Silently praying that it just did not smell too bad was my one wish. When he unlocked the door, I was shocked. Not only did it not have any odor w h a t s o e v e r, the kid cleaned. In fact, it smelled fresh. Happy dance.

02 // Opening doors for others was second nature.

Yes, I’m very capable of opening my own doors. Besides the fact that it is nice and very thoughtful, it was also an indication of how he treats others. He’s a helpful fella that will step in front and open those doors whether he knows you or not. Many times, I’ve walked out of a place, turned around and he was nowhere to be found. Wait a moment. He was at the end of the train of people. This guy … I tell ya. But beyond the doors {remember I said this was an indication of his overall being}, he’s an A+ dad, the #1 team player in life and always willing to help family, friends and co-workers. Working together comes naturally for us. And I love it.

03 // He had basic cooking utensils.

I mean, to say I was really happy to see cooking utensils in his kitchen is an understatement. And I’m talking about utensils other than the three musketeers: spoon, knife and fork. Did he have a gourmet kitchen with stainless steel appliances? Absolutely not. {Super quaint, seafoam green + metal. Missing it.} But what he did have included the necessities like two spatulas, a whisk, a sharp knife + a cheese knife {I. know.} and a potato peeler. He could cook {almost} anything with these. Until the moment I realized he didn’t have tongs so off to the store I went. But knowing that he had gathered these important items by himself {and that they were used before} let me know he went beyond a microwave meal bachelor. And honestly, the cheese knife really could exist on it’s own number … in fact …

03.1 // Cheese Knife.

I found a guy that loved everything and anything all things cheese. His eyes would light up if I asked him to try something new and funky. His favorite cheese is Muenster. He loves Gouda and Gruyere. Fondue or on a cracker, he will eat it. Bake it or fry it. Stuffed inside or wrapped around. Cheese curds. He just … he gets it. :) And he was able to slice the deliciousness into savory little squares for us to enjoy. Cheese knife props!

For the single gals {and guys} out there, I urge you to think of your X factors – those qualities that you may not think about immediately but a few unique characteristics/things that really could help define how the two of you could mesh together in the long run. And for those attached, what are your X factors that ignited the spark??

 

(Hi, bubbs. xxxxoooo)

Increase Your Social Reach

I’m a Pinterest lover so naturally, I started thinking {and testing} ways to really make Pinterest a fun and informative social experience. After all, there are so many great boards, pins and ideas waiting to be discovered {including your blog posts}. Check out a quick list that will inspire you to strategize your Pinterest efforts and increase your social reach.

Social Reach | Increase your following on Pinterest

 

01. REVIEW your last four pins.

The last four pins you pinned will be next to your lovely mug when people first see your profile. How do they “fit” together? Does it help represent, at least for that moment in time, what you are really interested in to help draw in new followers?

02. RELATED pins search.

Now that you just revamped your last four pins, what are you loving at the moment? Those are your personal trending items and what you are most interested in now. Start looking for similar pins, which will be located at the bottom of the pin’s page after you pinned it to a board. On that page, under “Related Pins”, check out some other pins you may find interesting aka other users that are also pinning things you may love. Like and comment on these to let others know you love what they are sharing, too!

03. SEARCH for new pins and view the likes/comments.

It’s so easy to just log into Pinterest and view your homepage feed. But this is your immediate audience – those you already follow. Be more proactive and search what interests you. Are you heading out to the beach? Search lunches for the beach or beach must-haves … things you are genuinely interested in learning. On those fresh, new pins {at least to you}, feel free to pin and like, but also look at WHO is liking, pinning and commenting on those pins. Similar interests? Check out their boards to give a like or follow and connect!

04. COMMENT on new pins.

Don’t forget to voice how much you love that new pin or how useful it is to you. Something I always ask myself when I’m commenting is, “Will someone else find this useful or enjoyable?”

05. SHARE what you love // GO off-site.

I’m a fan of using the Pin It web browser button. First, pinning to a board helps me remember something great I read online. {That’s for my benefit.} Another reason is that it guarantees the source of your posted pin. {That’s for your followers’ benefit.} Here is an all too familiar situation: You see this amazing picture of a recipe you would love to try for an upcoming dinner. When the time comes to test out the recipe, you click through the pin only to find a page error. OR, another website that is just spam with the picture. Pin fail. Help the quality of your pins by sharing the off-site internet goodness with quality links. Give your friends the best user experience possible.

06. TAG yourself and others.

Pin descriptions are great for … well, descriptions and the ever-lovin’ hashtag, but those pretty little boxes are also perfect for tagging the source, like yourself. Eh? Just pretend you are on Twitter, put the @ symbol and start typing your name, or the source’s name {help out a fellow blogger!}, and there you have it. It’s a very quick and easy call-out to followers of a new account that may be of interest to them.

And because there are so many MORE ways to increase engagement, here are a few additional resources to check out:

5 Ways to Get More Pinterest Followers

How to Make the Most of Pinterest

Ways Bloggers Can Use Secret Pinterest Boards

Quick & Dirty Pinterest SEO Check-List

What have I missed? Please share in the comments!

Linking up with Jessica // Pig and Dac