Thursday, March 16, 2017

Hart Family Photos 2017

They have a new addition since the last time we did photos!

I'd like to introduce you to these most photogenic family around, I'm not kidding. When editing photos, it's increasingly hard to choose which to keep and which to toss unless someone blinks or sweet baby R makes a sad face.

But let's give little R some credit, it was cold outside despite how warm and happy these photos are! It was kind of our luck again and again that every time we tried to do photos, it was freezing. The entire week proceeding this day was high 60s and low 70s.... I'm pretty sure it was around 46 when we met up.

Poor, sweet baby did her best despite it being pretty cold.

Now, I'm not officially a photographer anymore, but when friends ask, I cut them a good deal to cover my time and give them their digitals.

And then photos turn out this pretty and I really want to get out to take more photos!

I absolutely love how we caught the light on this one!

She LOVES her daddy.

I've known this kid since he was born, it's hard for me to remember he's in school now. It doesn't seem like he should be old enough yet!

Queue the heart emojis because this one is adorable.

R was done with us at this point, but we managed to get a cute one with big brother, she looks a little happy, right?

I absolutely adore these family photos and I'm so happy they chose to keep me a part of their photos. I was unavailable when R was born because Maeve had strep, I didn't have it but I was exposed and didn't want to be around a newborn. I have strict personal rules when it comes to sickness and being around pregnant ladies and small babies! But I'm glad I still had the chance to come back and capture them before baby turned 1.

Which reminds me that I have a baby about to have a birthday but she's going to be two! My how time really does fly when you have little ones.

- Amanda

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad

Here's one from the vaults for you! Photographed, written and left to rot until I had time to proof it. Which apparently I didn't have time for as I found it still sitting there in a draft.

This post is a vintage April 2016, now available for your reading pleasure. Give my last year self a break, she was sleep deprived, a full time mom and working a part time job, praying that layoffs wouldn't make us lose it all. Whew.

I have a few more of these lying around that I'll disperse over the next few weeks. Enjoy!

If a picky eater will eat this, you know it's not bad. I'm a picky eater, by the way, or I was.

I've recently been converted to a chicken salad lover. I'm not sure how it happened, I used to view it as a gross, slimy, mayonnaisey chicken thing with way too many onions, that people put on bread.

And then someone, somewhere served me a sandwich that was to die for. The flavor was right, it was delicious and NO ONIONS.

Sorry for my hate on the onions, it's just, fresh onions don't like me very much.

I don't want to gossip or put words in the onions mouths, but they totes give me indigestion.

Trust me. I've had enough pico on my tacos and suffered in silence long enough.

Onions and I are not friends.

Unless they're properly caramelized.

Or fried. Especially if they're a fried shoestring onions. Then we can certainly be amicable.

We store a lot of foods in mason jars, not because we're hip or cool, we just have a lot of mason jars after our pickling phase. 

One day while absorbed in the throws of the internet, whilst the baby napped, I came across the suggestion to make chicken salad with.... greek yogurt.

Ew.

I mean, I like the kind that is sweetened and tastes nothing like greek yogurt. But plain, bland greek yogurt?

Ew.

But alas, I showed it to my husband and he thought it looked good, so I jumped that hurdle and made some. I made the recipe my own with apples, cranberries, walnuts and NO ONIONS and wow, it is yummy.

We didn't eat ours as a sandwich, we ate the mixture as is since we're trying to cut carbs down. I ate it everyday for lunch last week and loved it. I'm sure it would be super delicious on warm toasted bread, someday I'll have it that way. [Side note: I was cutting my carbs because I have a minor cholesterol issue. But guess who just passed her test!? THIS GAL!]

You know what's hard to make look pretty? Chicken salad.

My past experience with greek yogurt wasn't very exciting. I didn't like the flavor and I didn't like the texture. Until my husband brought me the The Greek Gods yogurt brand, then I was in love. While it's not low carb when consumed in copious amounts on it's own, it does well spread out in the salad. Plus its super smooth, no texture issues with this one.

I have texture problems, don't judge me. You know Greek yogurt has a funny texture, don't lie to yourself.

- Amanda

---
Recipe
---
  • 2 Chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
  • 3 tablespoons of greek yogurt, I prefer The Greek Gods Brand
  • 1 cup diced apple
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberry
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • Salt or Pepper if desired
This one is super simple, just be sure your chicken has cooled before you begin.

Add all the ingredients into a large mixing bowl and mix until thoroughly combined. Add more greek yogurt if needed, the consistency if up to you. Salt and pepper to taste.

Eat as is. Serve on warm wheat toast. Pile it on some greenery and make it a real salad. It's good either way!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Mantel Makeover in Progress

My mantel in all it's neglected glory

I'm going to honest, I am a huge procrastinator. After my Christmas decorations went down, I tossed a few loose pictures onto the mantel and said, "I'll fix this later."

And now it's March, oops.

I had been eyeing this cute cow "painting" at Hobby Lobby for awhile and during a recent visit, I caught it on sale. So I decided to get him and my journey to making my mantel prettier began.

As you can see above, it really needed some love. I would LOVE to paint it as well, but that's an ongoing disagreement with my husband. I want to paint the brick because I think it's dated, he thinks it looks fine. I think I'm slowly turning him though with each Fixer Upper episode.

He'll soon tire of hearing, "See? Joanna would paint it!"

The actual mantel itself, I'm torn on. I've considering staining it darker because it really is a beautiful piece of wood annnnd I've considered replacing it altogether. I suppose it will just come down to whether or not I actually want to spend the money when the time comes.

For now, I'm just replacing trinkets and trying to make my mantel feel happier.

Let's take a more detailed look at it's sad state:

Oh let's see, we have a beautiful framed photo of baby Maeve, her 1st birthday crown, a dinosaur and a drunk Pikachu.

Another dinosaur, a potato head piece and a framed photo of a woman and child I don't know. They came with the frame.

A wiimote, a burned out lightbulb my husband will replace sometime in 2018 and family photos from when Izzy was 2... he's 7 now ya'll.

Oh Pikachu, what are we going to do with you? Stay out of the wine, Pikachu!

So my idea, when I began planning my mantel was to find pieces I loved. Instead of just going out and buying things to put on my mantel, I wanted it to feel like me, I wanted it to be something I loved.

It began with the cow, when I purchased him, I also picked up this cute, simple cactus watercolor. That's all I had for a few weeks until my JUT board arrived. It's my new favorite thing and I LOVE it, I'll show you more in a moment.

During my Magnolia visit I picked up a few milk glass vases, they have that vintage feel I just love. And then the wonderful Target Dollar spot graced me with some $3 faux succulents, which are perfect for up there, where I don't have to worry about forgetting them and letting them die.

Have I ever mentioned how horrible I am with plants?

So that landed me here:

I wanted it to be simple, large displays feel overwhelming to me. Though it still felt a bit naked.

Adorable little guys!

This is the JUT board! It's a magnetic wood letter board, it's gorgeous and I love being able to change up my phrases. This is simply the first thing I put on it when it arrived. I'm a big geek, so throwing the most basic of Star Wars phrases on there was just natural for me.

And there's my cow, he's the inspiration for everything in my living room now. And the Magnolia milk glass!

This is where I ended up with what I had. It's simple but I still wanted more out of it. I remembered a few small cacti I had seen at "AtHome" and decided to go back for them. I nearly bought them before but I was unsure if they would fit. Now I was sure I wanted them to be in my home.

I shopped around a little and found myself a prickly pear and another vase to place on the mantel. I also decided to change up my JUT board.

So this is where I am today:

I've rearranged this several times and settled on this for now, I want to find something else to go in there and maybe grab a few faux flowers for my vases. I don't know what I'm looking for, but I'll know it when I see it.

A new little cactus to join the family.


I grew up in West Texas and loved the prickly pear EVERYWHERE. I also had a lot of respect for it after falling into a prickly mess as a kid, this one is prickly free and fine by me.

"Moo" - Cows
It's a little silly, but so am I.

Another little cacti. I had my eye on two of them, but alas, he was the only one left out of the pair. I'll have to stop in frequently to see if I can find his mate.

I'm in love with the cactus trend going around, it makes it easier to find things I love. I grew up in West Texas surrounded by the desert, cactus, ranches and Mexican culture. Those memories have been the inspiration for the feel I want to bring into my home, I'm calling it modern ranch right now, but that's far from what it will probably end up being. I'm keeping my eye on some farmhouse, some ranch, some modern and some bohemian.

Yes, it was necessary to say some on each of those.

Not really, but I did it anyway.

Right now I'm focusing on sprucing up my living space because it's where we spend the most time as a family. I'm slowly working on my dining room and hopefully someday, I can get that kitchen looking nice.

I want to paint it bright white but the wonderful pink countertops are holding me back. Until I muster up the cash for that, it just gets put off.

Now if you're wondering about that awesome JUT board, you can find them here at https://jutmade.com/ - It comes with tons of letters and you can even order extras or special shapes for holidays or business. Mine shipped the next day and it's worth every penny! I'll be using it for years to come. I know I'll be changing mine with every holiday and special occasion, it's much easier to change compared to my chalkboard [which I abandoned in the laundry room].

I'll keep you updated, when I find that next item that's just perfect for my happy little mantel. Or if my husband lets me paint it anytime soon! Which raises the question, white, gray or black?

- Amanda

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

A Visit To Magnolia Market

This past weekend I had the joy of going to visit a place I have been dying to go, literally. I had a vicious stomach bug right before the trip and nearly didn't get to go. I won't go into more detail about THAT but up until we were in the car and on our way, I really wasn't too sure that my dream would come true for a little longer.

Living in Oklahoma City only puts me a small four hour drive away from this little piece of paradise. We normally spend a little time in the spring in Dallas, we go to Ikea and visit some of the local attractions, like the Dallas World Aquarium. But this year, knowing silo heaven was nearby, I asked my husband if we could do something different.

I've been a fan of Fixer Upper since the first season aired, Jo's taste goes right along with what I love and I enjoyed watching her and Chip work through the renovations. They inspire me and trust me, that wont be the last time I say that.

We didn't have cable, still don't, but anytime I visited my parents it was almost a guarantee my Mom would have it on, if it was on. Or I would try to turn it on myself. And then a magical thing happened, Netflix picked it up and now Fixer Upper heaven was only a click away and I quickly got my husband addicted.

So when I asked if we could change our plans and visit Waco, he didn't hesitate to say YES. Especially after I read The Magnolia Story and wouldn't stop going on and on about how their whole life story just speaks to me and inspires me.

And then the stomach bug hit, I got it the worse and barely recovered in time to go. I spent one evening in bed, I spent a lot of time in bed actually, but this specific time I'm already exhausted and tired of the bug, realizing that my whole trip was going to be put off. I'm being all weepy and devastated about it all, but my husband kept encouraging me that I would get to go and he was going to see to it.

The next day, he booked our hotel for the stay.

Two days later, we hit the road at four in the morning and made the pilgrimage to Waco. With every mile that passed, my excitement grew. As we came in to Waco, I kept pointing out things I recognized while listening to Siri tell us where to go.

And then we arrived. Despite the rainy weather, it was quite busy, people were walking up from all directions. Instead of trying for free parking, we went ahead and pulled into the church parking lot that is right against the Silos and give them $10 to let us park there. Worked for me!

Walking up to the Silos. I took a quick snap to send my mom.

We go out, unloaded the children and began walking that way. I wasn't sure what to expect. I had heard so much about how busy it can be and had prepared myself to spend a hour or two just waiting to get in.

Walking up to the store front and NO LINE.

We were pleasantly surprised to approach to see people walking straight in, no wait. The sun may not have been shining, but I was beaming inside!

My husband decided to take on the kids and let me enjoy the shop, let me tell you how much I LOVE him. So as I skipped up the steps, he rolled the stroller up the side and caught up to me. I mean, I was excited, but I still waited for him before going in. I'm not heartless!

It's no surprise, the store is amazing inside.

We walk in, and frankly, I'm overwhelmed. There is stuff everywhere and this is just upstairs! To my right is the kitchen, to my left the flower market and everything else inbetween.

Over there, past all of those people was the kitchen. My favorite part of the store.

Copies of Magnolia Journal were place all over with Jo's smiling face inviting you into the space.

Downstairs is filled with so many treasures, tees and Chip's Corner.

We spent a little time up top and then ventured downstairs, as I told my husband I wanted to be sure to get a Silo tee while he opted for a #Demoday hat. He spent a little more time with me here before deciding to retreat outside to the lawn with the kids, leaving me to my own devices.

So here area few more of the things I loved!

Lots of galvanized metal in the shop, talk about LOVE.

These French inspired holders caught my eye for sure. Love some black and white.

 
This huge side board filled with even more galvanized metal, in letter form.

Magnolia paint, in all the pretty shades for your home. I didn't need any this time around.

All of the displays were beautiful, whether for candles, infusers, hats, totes or mugs.
They were all beautiful!

I really enjoyed even the smallest details, like this Magnolia wax stamp on the diffuser box.

This "greenhouse" is filled with florals and vases for a plant lady. [I'm horrible with plants]

I made my purchases after walking through everything multiple times and visiting the kitchen area too many times. And then I ventured outside to find my family playing out on the lawn. Maeve was just going crazy with her freedom and Izzy was playing ball with other kids that had been dragged along by their mothers.

The outside area was certainly made with families in mind. Plenty of seating and
games to play. Food trucks nearby with drinks and food, plenty of places to sit and eat!

Silos looking pretty.

This Airstream acts as a second bakery on busier days but it was closed today, probably due to the impending rain.

The garden area is so pretty!

After the kids played a little, we followed Maeve over and eventually ended up by the Seed + Supply. I forgot to go in because I was chasing a little lady around trying to give her dad a break. It just didn't cross my mind to come back to it.

 
She loved the garden area, maybe she's a plant lady,

Probably a plant lady. ;)

Bluebonnets! Reminds me of living in Texas as a kid. 

All of the vegetable beds looked amazing!

From here we spent a little more time just enjoying the grounds, we shared a fresh pressed lemonade and I just sat the adoring those rusty silos.

Probably going to frame this one.

I just love what they did with something most people probably would've torn down.
Magnolia.

Sharing fresh pressed lemonade.

He's smiling, but he wasn't a huge fan. It's not a very sweet lemonade,
personally, I loved it.

She loved it though.

The view inside the canopy we were sitting under, avoiding a small rain storm.

 
He tried, I give him that. She just wants more.

Had to do the touristy thing and hit up the Miles To Magnolia sign.
270ish miles for us!

There was only one thing left for us to do while we were there and that was the bakery. The bakery had a line outside when we arrived and still had a line at this time. But we came here to see Magnolia, so a line was not going to deter us!

The outside is beautiful in white with all black accents. We started in line all the way at the
rear of the building.

Generally, I don't like standing in lines for anything. I would normally announce that something was not worth waiting in THAT LINE and go on my way. But getting these cupcakes was a part of the trip and spoiler warning, worth the wait.

While waiting in line, a bakery employee brings you a card and a pencil so you can mark down what you want and how many, it helps cut down on the wait inside. They simply ring you up and pass the card on to the next person, who packs your items for you and gets you back out quickly.

I'm sure the wait depends on what the people in front of you are getting, today it moved quick enough. It took us about ten minutes from the time we got in line to get our goods and coffee.

The promise of a cookie keeps a smile on her face.

The window boxes are full of pretty purple pansies.

I was absolutely in love with the outdoor details.

Selfie while we wait! Maeve is starting to get tired.

Made it from the back to the front corner, so close to our goodies.

And then we were suddenly in front and inside before we knew it.

Of course, inside was another line, but we were that much closer!

Once our order was place, we simply waited for our box to be filled. So much respect for the bakery staff, they're quick and efficient and keep smiling even though it's hectic all around them.

Once outside, we grabbed a patio table, they were all wet due to passing rain.

Cupcakes! Mine on the left; Lemon Lavender. Izzy's on the right; Good 'ol vanilla on vanilla.

Cupcakie. Cupcake selfie, get it?

A picture with my kiddo. He was a little disappointed, simply because
despite me telling him we wouldn't, he thought he'd get to meet "The Fixer Uppers."
I tried explaining how they couldn't walk an inch if they were here, but as a kid
all that just doesn't even make sense to him. Why would everyone want to talk to them?
The same reason you want to kiddo, that's all. He lived, I got him tacos for lunch.

Forced into more photos, so I could send one to his Mema.

Why yes, that is a look of pure joy on my face.

I cannot begin to tell you what this little adventure meant to me. I've been walking through a difficult place in my life recently, trying to come to grips with some things. I always enjoyed the show but it wasn't until my birthday passed and I picked up the book that I really wanted to come here. I don't think I can explain how much Chip and Joanna inspire me, their life and their story, how they arrived here.

Obviously with a four hour drive here and four more back the next day, I had plenty of time to talk to my husband. It sounds silly, but I was in tears, probably because I was tired but I'm also just an emotional person. I tried to control myself but I was crying, telling him about what I'm wanting to do and the journey I want to take. And how Joanna just wanted to run a little shop because she enjoyed decorating, she never dreamed people would come from thousands of miles away to see it. And yet there it is! As a creative person, I just couldn't help but feel so inspired being in that place.

I actually went back a second time that evening. It started raining after lunch and it continued fairly steadily through the rest of the day. So I announced I wanted to return and everyone wanted to go with me. We arrived a hour before it closed and it was way less busy, I'd still call it busy, but I could actually move around and see things. You can tell in my photos above that some have fewer people in them because they're actually from that evening.

I actually crossed paths with the same woman several times that evening until she finally apologized because she kept "getting in my way." And I told her it wasn't a big deal at all! Since I had been there in the morning, running into the same person a few times wasn't a problem versus dealing with the immense crowd I had faced.

So would I go again? You bet! The store was fun and I know the inventory will change with the seasons. I can't visit that often, but maybe I can make it back again before the end of the year. I'm sure its magical during the holidays. The spring festival is coming up soon, in just a few weeks. And a few of my favorite vendors on Instagram will be in attendance.

Magnolia is doing great things for their own community as well as the community of makers and creators worldwide. It's exciting watching them change and grow, I'm certainly rooting for their success!

With the love of my life, my soulmate and biggest supporter! I'm so blessed
to be on this life's journey with him.

Lastly, huge shout out to that handsome man above. I wasn't going to come because I had been so sick and it had left me so weak. So many other things went wrong and threatened to take the funds I saved for this trip. Broken thermostat and broken dryer to boot, but HE got me here. He worked hard to make sure this trip happened for me and I will never be able to properly express how much that means to me and how much HE means to me.

We had a blast and I'm looking forward to our next trip in the fall. We'll be visiting his Mom in Idaho and his Dad in Oregon. We plan to catch many beautiful sites in-between and make a trip up the Oregon coast to Astoria where The Goonies was filmed. It's my turn to take him to one of his dream places, this guy watches The Goonies at least 5 times a month. Astoria is also where Kindgarten Cop and Short Circuit were filmed, so it's a total geek out trip.

Until then, I look forward to sharing more of my creative side with you!
- Amanda