November 30, 2012

A photo + Friday Features

How gorgeous is this shot of my little cousin? One of my favorite pictures I've ever taken, I think.  In other news, it's WEDDING WEEKEND! I'm off to San Antonio today to complete maid of honor duties in my best friend's wedding... exciting times. I love the progression of LIFE. School graduations, weddings, babies, birthdays, holidays full of family. Makes me so excited to start my own little family one of these days, and begin the cycle over again.  Life is such a privilege.

But enough of that sappy stuff. Here are my featured sponsors for you today! Happy, happy Friday...

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L'esthetique is a blog by one gorgeous girl named Tiana, whom I have had the absolute privilege of some lovely email exchanges with and who you can just TELL oozes warmth and joy and natural beauty. Gosh, am I gushing or what? No but really, L'esthetique is a wonderful blog where style and beauty are both shared and gained. Get to know Tiana better here (go ahead, drool over that picture of her), and don't miss today's style post that is pretty much perfection. Inner AND outer beauty AND intelligence? Check, check, and check again.

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Next up is another special treat for you: the completely lovely Meg of Write Meg! Meg is aaaallll of my favorite things: an avid writer, a voracious reader, a lover of photography, a baker of cupcakes, an East-coaster, and... well... you'll just have to go here to get to know her more. One thing I love about Write Meg! are all of her thoroughly fabulous book reviews (this girl reads A LOT), so if you're in the market for some new reading material, consult Meg first. She is THE authority on such things. :) 

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Last but certainly not least is your little piece of antique-shopping paradise, Ruby Lane. If you or someone you know might like to contain some vintage and antique shopping to the Internet this holiday season, this online store is THE MECCA of such things... old books, vintage jewelry and clothes, and even antique furniture. Have fun with it!

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Have a great weekend...

November 29, 2012

Meet Bonnie.

You guys. I have a very special guest post for you today, by a girl who is fast becoming one of my favorite reads here in Blog Land. And a blog doesn't get added to my Bloglovin' reader very lightly, mind you, so she must be scintillating. Bonnie agreed to write a little guest post for me while I'm out editing pictures like a crazy person... it's a busy time of year for family photography, and I have been blessed to work with lots of amazing families. :)

Below are a few words from Bonnie, and I hope you'll go over to her blog for more quality reading when you're done here. Enjoy!

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Why hello there.

The name is Bonnie Blackburn Larsen and writing nonsense is my game.  Sometimes I get in trouble for what I write, but that's just the way the cookie crumbles.  The husband's name is Greg and I've been told I would be a fool for letting the internet Gods know my husband's name because now they can steal our identities and invade our home, GASP!  Therefore, to protect us from cyber devils and because it seems somehow hip I have named him Hubs.  I pride myself on originality.

This is me in my very sexiest form.  I look like this about 0.0021% of my life.  Maybe less.

This is me in my ugliest form- dressed up as Voldemort for midnight Harry Potter premieres. 

I just felt like from the get go you needed to know me in my best and worst forms.  Just know that usually I am somewhere in the middle of those two extremities, but creeping over more into the Voldemort side, no doubt.

If you are still interested in me, (oh this sounds so romantic!) you have a couple of options from here.

Option #1: I've noticed Jenni is a jack of many trades.  She's always looking smoking hot, she takes fabulous pictures, and she even knows how to cook!  There is so much we can learn from her!  Then I thought to myself, Heck!  I know how to do a lot of stuff too!  Like make teenagers hate me and burn dinner!  Keep reading where I will give you the best darn How-to guide you have ever seen.  Trust me, you're going to want to read up.
Option #2: Visit my blog where you may read all my rambling to your heart's content.  You might wanna check out this post which will give you a very personal, loving tour of the blog and a guide to the greatest posts- the romantic ones about my Hub-a-dubs, the ones about teaching high school to bratty teenagers, and even the scandalous ones.
Option #3:  Both of the above.

(Pick #3!  Pick #3)

Let's dive right in, shall we?

Paint your toenails.
Take off all old nailpolish.
Clip nails if necessary.
Put on fresh nail polish.
Put a clear coat on the top to make it shiny. If that's what you're in to.
Don't put socks on until they're dry.
The last step is the most important- trust me on this one!

Do laundry.
Throw clothes in washing machine.
Whites in one pile.
Darks in the other.
Wash them in cold water and wash them all together.
When you hear the buzzer, move the clothes to the dryer.
Turn it on.
When the buzzer goes off again the clothes are done.
I forgot to tell you to add detergent.
Add it to the washer, not the dryer.
That could be bad.
You can find detergent at any grocery store.

Get seventeen year olds to like  you.
Get a twitter account
Make fun of the other teachers with them.
Shop at Forever 21.
Say something borderline inappropriate every once in a while.

Get seventeen year olds to hate you.
Take away their cell phones.
Write them up for truancies when they leave class five minutes early.
Yell at them in front of the class when they do something out of line.
Send them to the principal's office when they drop the f bomb.

Make dinner.
Chop an onion and fry it up.
Add meat to it.  Chicken or beef usually.
Twirl your spice rack thing around chosing at random which spices you want.  You really can't go wrong!
Cook until it smells burned.
Microwave a potato for ten minutes.
Eat potato with meat.

Order a pizza from Papa John's.
Feeds two people for two meals

Seduce your man.
Cook dinner (I would suggest option B in this post.  Option A doesn't always turn out.)
Wear perfume
Laugh at everything he says
Tell him you will watch whatever he wants for the rest of the night.
Tell him his muscles are looking bigger.
Works every time.

Love your life.
Don't take it too seriously.
Say thank you.
Take a bubble bath if you feel stressed.
Remember everybody's got probs.
Dye your hair if you feel so inclined.
Look in the mirror and repeat: "I am a sexy mama, I am a sexy mama, I am a sexy mama."

Just kidding about that last one.

Who would ever do that?

There you go folks!  You're not going to find much better advice than that on the whole world wide web, so you might as well hop on over to Life of Bon for more incredibly insightful advice.  Or for a laugh.  Whatever floats your boat, people. 

See you soon?

November 28, 2012

To the Christmas tree tent we go

Everyone needs a Christmas Tree Shopping outfit, didn't you know? Matthew and I plan to go shopping for our Christmas tree tonight or tomorrow, which might possibly be my favorite ever thing about Christmas. We go to those big white Christmas tree tents and pay too much and pretend to be in the forest while we breathe in the heavenly scent of the pine... mmmmm. :)

Here's what I plan on wearing to the event. (This sort of thing matters.)

But wait! Listen to this song, too, if you haven't already heard it on the radio. My favorite right now. Makes me want to get up and dance around and grab strangers off the street and give 'em a big hug and kiss. Music is powerful!

{ hat and shirt (similar): Gap, Jeggings: Banana Republic (similar here), Shoes: Target (similar here), Bracelets: F21, Necklace: an antique store ($4!) }

Happy Wednesday!

November 27, 2012

Win a $25 Visa gift card from Lee La La

Today one of my beautiful sponsors, Miss Lindsay of the blog Lee La La, is giving away a $25 Visa gift card to one SOML reader..... think of the possibilities, folks. That's approximately five tall lattes from Starbucks. Four sandwich combos from Subway. Half a tank of gas. Some cutesy little things from Anthroplogie. A few buttons off a shirt from J.Crew (just kidding).  But first, a little bit about the generous benefactor of said Visa card:

Lindsay is a life and style blogger, health enthusiast, and most importantly mommaLindsay has been born and raised in sunny California, where she lives in sundresses, flip flops, and over sized sun glasses. After the birth of her first child, this working girl turned stay at home momma decided to chase her passion for writing in the form of a blog. Lindsay loves to chronicle life as she knows it, while staying positive in the midst of hardship. New on her resume: life as a single mom. Lindsay hopes to inspire just one, to never give up, and trust life a little bit. :)

Lindsay also has a fabulous weekly Got Health Series, for those interested in living a healthier lifestyle. This girl will inspire you. 

And now, enter to win the Visa card! All entries are recorded inside the Rafflecopter widget (no need to leave a comment with your entries). Good luck! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

November 26, 2012

A peek at our Thanksgiving

Happy week after Thanksgiving! Hope your holiday was full of good food and fun. We had a quiet day with my mom and sister, and enjoyed all the favorites... turkey and gravy, ham, sweet potato casserole and mashed poatoes, green beans, corn, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, cobbler, and chocolate dipped peanut butter balls for good measure. You would have thought we were feeding an army, not just four people! Leftovers were had by all. :)

And so begins the countdown to Christmas. My Instagram feed has been blowing up with Christmas tree photos, and I'm a little jealous... we won't be getting ours 'til later in the week, and even then, I'm not sure how it will work since Matthew isn't supposed to lift anything heavy (darn that appendix!). 

Anyway, enough of my rambling for now. Hope your Monday is minimally painful and your week gets off to a great start...

November 21, 2012

Sale on awesome photography tutorials... Get 'em while they're hot!

I've been an affiliate with Photography Concentrate for some time now, and I am so, so proud to help promote their fabulous photography tutorials. The Extremely Essential Camera Skills tutorial literally transformed my understanding of my camera in just one evening, so yeah. I am forever grateful!  Scrounging around the Internet for quality "free" info is time consuming y'all, and will only get you so far. (this tutorial is on sale for $29.97 through Tuesday, Nov 27th, and in my opinion it's worth ten times that!)

So, consider this a public service announcement. If you love photography and want to understand your DSLR and shooting in manual, you'll want to look into this sale. There's also several other fab tutorials (the "super photo editing skills" one taught me Lightroom... it's legit), some great freebies and articles, and an awesome giveaway going down over there, so check it all out.  Might I also add that the tutorials would make a great gift to a photography enthusiast? They are even more affordable than normal right now, and worth every single penny. I can't say enough good things about these guys. But I will... I'll stop now.

Happy Thanksgiving, my friends!

November 20, 2012

Best Ever Hot Apple Cider

Hey folks, I just wanted to pass along the best ever and, more importantly, EASIEST ever hot apple cider recipe. I've made this cider multiple times over the past several years, and it is always a huge hit! Not to mention it will make your home smell like heaven while it cooks up. :)  Perfect to have brewing on Thanksgiving day or during the weeks leading up to Christmas!


Best Ever Hot Apple Cider


+ 1 jug of good quality apple cider (I prefer the kind you have to shake up due to settling at the bottom
   (Texans: Louisburg brand from HEB is awesome!)
+ 1 large orange
+ 4-5 whole cloves
+ 3-4 cinnamon sticks

Directions: Pour desired amount of cider into a crockpot on high heat. Stick your orange with 4-5 cloves (cloves are pretty sharp, and they pierce the orange's skin quite easily!) and add the orange into the pot. Throw in your cinnamon sticks and let it all simmer for anywhere from 2-4 hours, or until flavors are nicely melded. Remove the crockpot lid at any point during the process to better allow the heavenly aroma into your home! Serve hot, with a cinnamon stick for garnish, and enjoy.

*Note: Cider could also be cooked in a regular pot on the stove, but do not leave unattended.

November 19, 2012

Things the drugs made Matthew say, etc

Happy Monday and Thanksgiving week, everyone! It doesn't really feel very festive for us over here yet, but more than ever, I feel like I have so much to be thankful for. As I mentioned yesterday, Matthew went to the ER for an emergency appendectomy last Thursday, and as such emergencies often do, it brought everything flying back into perspective. As I spent the night curled up on a very less than luxurious hospital chair, with nurses and the smelly, moaning car accident patient sharing our room often punctuating my fitful sleep with their unwelcome interruptions, I realized how little else is important if you don't have your health and the people you love. I got a little taste of what my mom and Edd went through day after day after week after week, with countless emergencies and hospital stays and nightmares turning into reality on a painfully regular basis. I looked over at my big, strong husband, who always does the hard things for me, but who now couldn't even make it in and out of bed without my help, and I felt so thankful that there was an end to this in sight... that he would get better and go home and our life would go back to normal and we might even love each other more for all of it.  Not everyone has that ending to look forward to, and I am thankful this week for life and the people like doctors who protect it for us. You never fully appreciate the absolute pleasure in little things like sinking into your own bed at night and eating fresh (non-hospital or snack machine) food or just having a healthy, independent spouse - until those things are taken away or threatened. Then you realize how making your own bed, washing your own sheets, tidying your own home, and trips to the grocery store are an absolute privilege. Silly arguments and fights over inconsequential things are luxuries awarded only to those with who can afford them. You realize how blessed you are.

Also, Matthew was the sweetest ever when he first woke up from his anesthesia. I wrote down all the sweet/weird/funny things he said within the first couple hours after surgery. I'll never let him forget these...

+ I love you so much. You're the love of my life.
+ I want a sesame bagel.
+ I want some peppermint ice cream.
+ I want to go to the ranch.
+ You're a great wife.
+ I miss my dogs.
+ I'm glad I didn't wake up with boobs.
+ You're so pretty. I love your smile and your little parentheses.
+ Where's Gracie?
+ I want a bow. (bow and arrow set) I should get a bow for all of this.
+ You're my everything.
+ I feel like I'm giving birth
+ You're so beautiful.
+ Oh my gosh, you know what sounds so good? A tall, ice cold cranberry Jamba juice.
+ This is ridiculous.
+ Jenni: I have one more organ than you!
   Matthew: I have one more tooth than you.
   Jenni: Touche.
+ I'm so happy I'm married to you. I wouldn't trade you for anybody.

Nevermind that we both got suuuuper grumpy after about a day in the hospital. I will choose to remember the good stuff. :)

Hope you all have safe travels wherever you may be going for the holiday this week. I'm sure blog reading will be slowing down, so if this is the last time you tune in for a while, I wish you and your family a very, very happy Thanksgiving. Much love to you and yours from me and mine...

November 18, 2012

What a week.

What a week, indeed. Thursday my dear husband went to the ER and promptly had emergency surgery to remove his appendix, and a couple scares, a couple days, and one night in the hospital with him later has me all cornfuddled and behind on life stuff. So happy to report that Matthew is now home and doing a bit better. More on that tomorrow!

Also, WOW on the response to this post last week. I clearly opened up a can of worms! The yummy kind though. Like, gummy worms on top of Oreo cake. I have so enjoyed reading through each and every one of the epic comments.  Thanks to all who left a response for the rest of us to mull over... I love it when a post starts a conversation. That's what blogging is all about!

And now, check out the lovely ladies and one cool shop for shades I'm featuring today.  Enjoy, and happy Sunday!

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The first blogess up to bat today is pretty miss Kaity of the Brownie Diaries, a college student and fashionista with aspirations of being a doctor and spending lots of time in France!  Kaity writes about her life and passions and sometimes writes candid posts like this one, which I think the blogosphere needs more of.  Get to know this sweet girl more over here, and let her know you stopped in!

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Next on the list is beautiful Annika of Words by A, a blog about life as a mom, wife, journalism grad, and overall awesome photographer/bloggerista extraordinaire. Her photos tell a story, which are my favorite kind of photos. :) Annika is totally cool and funny, as evidenced here and every other post. Also, how cute are they?! Told you. Seriously, I hope my children are this adorable. Go say hello. 

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Next up is your one stop shop for sunglasses. No, seriously. I'm fairly certain that this site sells every brand and type of sunglass known to man.  Hipster wayfarers? Check. Awesome aviators? Check. HarryPotterish? Check.  Here's a great place to get started searching for your favorite frame shapes. Mail the links to Santa, and you'll be set. 

November 15, 2012

Babies and Marriage

photo by Smitten Imagery

Last night a friend and I had a discussion about how having kids affects a marriage, and it really got me thinking. When I get thinking, I also tend to get blogging. And I'm honestly curious about how some of you feel on this matter.

Said friend and her husband don't want children. I see absolutely nothing wrong with that. As I told her last night, not wanting children does not, in any way, make you a freak of nature. It just means she and her husband will likely have more money, more sex, and will be sailing around the world in each other's arms while friends with kids likely enjoy less of all of the above.  Matthew and I DO want children, though we realize it's a bit of a trade off no matter what path you choose. Maybe you'll have less money, sex, and sailing around the world once you have kids, but I hope there will be richness in other ways.

But one thing my friend and I have both noticed (as outsiders looking in, for the most part), is that having children, especially multiple children, seems to so very often equal sadly neglected marriages. Not always, but often. And for good reason, of course! Suddenly you have these Littles in your life that require so much time, attention, and love, that there's not nearly so much left for your partner at the end of the day.  Not to mention mom's body may have just changed dramatically, probably affecting her self esteem and the sexy time, if you know what I mean.  I don't know about your man, but mine needs ample sexy time, or else relational satisfaction plummets.

The thing I find so scary, as someone on the edge of that stage in life but still not quite there yet, is that keeping the fire burning in a relationship is hard enough even without kids! So how on earth do you hold on to each other and your love and the passion when so much about the life you began together has now evolved into something very... else? Matthew and I talk about this all the time. Sometimes we lay in bed with our dogs at night, the dogs you can lock up in a room and leave alone for hours and that you don't have to worry about growing up to be sociopaths or drug addicts or scientologists. Just kidding about that last part. And we say, "isn't this awesome? that these are dogs and not real children?" But then we smile, because we both know we want babies. Little half him-s and half me-s.

Anyway. I'm probably not polling the most knowledgeable audience since this is not a "Mommy Blog" and many if not most of my readers probably aren't mommies yet. But I'd love to hear your opinions on all of this.  If you have kids, do you still have a rocking marriage? If you don't have kids, do you know people with 'em that still have a rocking marriage? And remember, a blog or Facebook, etc, isn't an accurate look into a family's life. That's the very reason why I'm asking this question. Because I feel like I really know so little about how things are behind the scenes!

But if you or someone you know seems to be making it work for both the children and the marriage, what do you think is the key? Is there a key? Or does having children mean resigning yourself to a lack-luster relationship with your spouse?

I'm curious! Tell us your thoughts.

November 14, 2012

Carry On

I am feeling uninspired today.



Four photo sessions to edit, which tends to crowd out my desire to blog. I'm happy though. Thankful to be busy. I love my family and my life and that it's cold here in Texas this week. Yesterday I had two cups of coffee, a cup of hot cocoa, a cup of hot tea, and some peppermint ice cream.  Trying to get it all in before it feels like summer again.

Can you believe that next week is Thanksgiving already? This time last year I went to the dentist and was told I had a massive cyst in my jaw, and then I was given referrals to a facial reconstructionist and oral surgeon. Scared the shit out of me, excuse my french. This November Matthew has been told he has two grape sized tumors on his liver, and while the doctors don't seem terribly concerned just yet, we're still like "Woah, not cool! What does this mean?" Hopefully nothing. You'll certainly hear from me if it's anything serious!

Life, you crazy thing.

Sometimes Wednesdays need an anthem like this. Cute lead singers don't hurt either. Hope your hump day is a good one!

PS - I am currently obsessed with this band (Fun). I literally teared up when I found out they were coming to Austin in February... and that the show is sold out. STUPID.

November 13, 2012

Earrings Nation giveaway

Happy Tuesday, my friends! Today's giveaway features a beautiful little necklace by a shop called Earrings Nation. This store specializes in bridesmaids jewelry, but it also offers lots of other pretty little pieces (this one is my favorite!). One of you will win the lovely necklace below, and since using Rafflecopter went so well last week, I'm going for it again today. Please enter in the Rafflecopter widget (no need to leave any comments as entries). Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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The winner of last week's Acute Designs giveaway has been announced and emailed. Thanks to all who entered! :)

November 12, 2012

November morning

Fall has graced us with its presence here in Texas this week... what a fabulous, fabulous day it's started out to be here. My mom, Norman, and I took a little walk in a nearby park early this morning, where cold wind and warm sun streamed in through fields of wheat in the most glorious manner. So naturally, Norman and I had to be sure and take pictures in said glorious sunlight and wheat. 

And now, you reap the benefits. Pun intended. 
(get it? reap? wheat? sigh. It's early yet.)

Shirt: Madewell (similar here), Pants: Gap (similar color pants here), Boots: Franco Sarto (similar here), Hat: Banana Republic (similar here), Necklace: Marolsha, Cute Little Dog: Diamond Dachshund Rescue :) 

November 9, 2012

That time of week again...

Howdy folks! Another Friday is upon is, and as it often does, that means it's time to go make friends with some new bloggeristas.  Here's today's lineup!

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The beautiful miss Megan is the brains behind Freckled Italian, a lifestyle blog that covers everything from fashion to eating paleo to life in and out of college (she just finished her master's in Children's Literature!). She also lives in Roanoke, Virginia, which makes me jealous. Megan is smart and fun and pretty and basically all of the qualities you'd need in a best friend. Go be-friend her.

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MacKensie is a blog by a girl name MacKensie. ;)  A pretty girl named MacKensie, at that!  Interestingly, like Megan above, she's also all about a paleo diet, and she's super healthy and trains for marathons and stuff, which sort of makes me shiver.  Get to know this cool gal a bit better over here, and let her know you stopped by, or it doesn't count! 

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So, first of all, Alexa of Southern Living, Our Way is flipping funny, see proof HERE.  Second of all, she's also quite pretty, which may lead you to believe that being insanely cute is a requirement for sponsoring my blog, though it isn't, I promise! Get to know this awesomely funny girl here, and since that probably won't be enough for you, go here too. Might as well check out her and her hub's gorg wedding pics while you're at it. Have fun!


Happy Friday!

November 8, 2012

Five things you should try this fall

1. Homemade popcorn. 

My mom made homemade popcorn for me at her house once, and I thought it was so incredibly delicious, I had to take some kernels home and make it for Matthew, too. The man looooovvvves popcorn, and you should have seen his eyes light up with pure childlike joy when his mouth first beheld the wholesome goodness. Yum.

Buy a package of unpopped kernels and some canola oil. Add a couple tablespoons of the oil to the bottom of a large pot, and heat it up on medium-high heat. Add in one kernel, and when it pops, add in another half a cup and put on the lid, preferably a glass one you can see through. As the kernels begin to pop, shake the pot around every few seconds so the bottom layer doesn't burn. You'll probably want to wear oven mitts and hold the lid down while you do this. When the popping slows considerably, remove from heat and pour into a separate bowl. Add a generous amount of salt (to taste) and if you want to get really crazy, you can pour over some melted butter too. But I think you'll find that the canola oil gives it a nice flavor and butter isn't needed!

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2. Non-fat Greek Yogurt with 100% maple syrup.

So healthy and SO good! But make sure you get real maple syrup. That's key.

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3. Homemade apple butter.

This stuff is heaven spread over toast, cinnamon bagels, or the bread I mention below. Here's a delicious apple butter recipe. And it will make your house smell like pure fall. 

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4. Cranberry Sweet Potato Bread.

This delicious, rustic bread will blow your mind with butter and apple butter for your breakfast in the morning. Add the Greek yogurt with maple syrup and you'll be full and happy 'til lunch!  Here's the recipe.

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5. Pumpkin hot (white) chocolate.

All I can say about this is that you have to make it. It's pumpkin pie in a cup. It's a mouthgasm. Do it. 

Recipe here.

Happy Thursday!

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