.nightly routines.

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By nature, I’m not a great sleeper.  I hear all the creaky noises and I notice when my cats are wandering the house with their noisy little paws.  We live near a main highway, so the people driving by at 2:00 a.m. blaring something abysmal {think Florida Georgia Line} automatically become my least favorite people.  And the coyotes…well, they sound like screaming babies that have entered some kind of Mad Max/Hunger Games alternate universe.

Tomorrow is my first official day of summer vacation and I plan to use my time wisely and really focus on my self-care {more on that later this summer}.  I believe that a major component of self-care comes from developing a nightly routine that lets my body know it’s time to unwind and relax.  Here’s my plan:

1.  Eliminate screen time.  Just run a search on screen time before bedtime and you’ll see that researchers agree that it’s pretty bad for you.  Scrolling through social media or even reading on your iPhone or iPad make it harder to fall asleep and/or stay asleep.  Not getting enough sleep can trigger a lot of other health problems like obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.  My ultimate goal is to flip my phone to the “Do Not Disturb” mode around 8:30 every evening in order to let my body know it’s time to get ready to sleep.

2.  Remove my makeup.  I’m pretty religious about washing my face.  I love how relaxed it makes me feel when I combine hot water with the soothing scent of Noxzema {yes, people still use Noxzema}.  I use this moisturizer and I’ve been really pleased with the results.

3.  Slather up!  I have super dry skin and pretty bad eczema, so my moisturizing routine has to be pretty strict.  I use this lip balm every night and I love that it doesn’t get sticky throughout the night.  I use this moisturizer on my hands, elbows, and feet and I usually mix in a little Lavender essential oil.

4.  Diffuse something relaxing.  We use our home diffuser every single day.  Each night around 7:30 or so, we start diffusing a nice mix of Lavender & Stress Ease.  Just the scent of the oils lets my body know that it’s time to relax.

5.  Have a cup of tea.  My current nighttime teas are Tension Tamer {especially with a drop of Thieves!} and the old standby, Sleepytime.  Having something warm {and caffeine free} is yet another way to let my body know that it is time to unwind.

6.  Read a book.  I’m talking a real-life-can-still-smell-the-printer’s-ink-honest-to-goodness-book.  This summer I’m focusing on re-reading series that I’ve always loved like Harry Potter and Anne of Green Gables.

I am a creature of routine, so I know developing practices that help me relax will ultimately result in better self-care for both myself and Josh.  I’m really hopeful that this is a routine that can stick!

What about you?  Do you have a nightly routine that works for you?

XOXO,

Court

P.S.

These nightgowns from Target are my favorite.  The fluid knit feels so soft and stays cool all night.

These linen sheets from Restoration Hardware are on my future splurge list.

These are two great examples of bedtime routines:  link & link.

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.family supper club.

I hope everyone had an enjoyable, blessed Thanksgiving.  We ventured down to Augusta to celebrate with my Mama’s family.  After losing Mama’s stepfather and mother within 48 hours about two weeks ago, it was wonderful to be surrounded by family.

When Josh decided to go back to school in order to gain a teaching certificate, we knew our already hectic schedule would morph into this crazy monster.  I knew our precious quality time was going to be pushed aside for things like term papers, teacher work samples, and endless hours of studying for seemingly endless certification tests.

As someone who craves quality time, I was dreading Josh’s foray into graduate school.  By nature, I crave the quiet and the familiar.  Grad school + football season + wrestling season does not equal the time I desperately need at home with my husband and family.  Over manis and pedis, I confided in my mother about my concerns and she {as usual} came up with a most brilliant plan:

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Family Supper Club.  The concept is simple:  plan and cook meals with the people you love.  This isn’t meant to be a nightly dinner party or anything particularly fancy.  It’s a way to spend maximize quality time while minimizing both stress and grocery bills.  It also eliminates leftovers altogether, something that makes Mr. C very happy.

Our Family Supper Club has been going strong for nearly a year now and I cannot say enough about what a blessing it is.  Even during our most hectic weeks {those weeks where football season and wrestling season intersect…nightmare!}, we were able to sit down to home cooked meals instead of relying solely on fast food or take away.  Some weeks we rely heavily on Mama and Daddy and other weeks they rely heavily on us.  In the end, we typically have four to five nights plus a Sunday dinner together.

I cannot stress what a blessing my Mama’s little idea has been.  Instead of worrying over what to cook seven nights a week, I might cook three nights a week at a maximum.  It has also been a wonderful incentive to follow our chore chart each day to keep our house “company ready.”  Is it a perfect system?  No, but it’s a lot better than getting home at 7:30 in the evening and guiltily eating fast food.

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1.  Find Your People.  Does Family Supper Club have to be strictly for family members?  Absolutely not.  Find a core group of people that you love and you’re all set!  Our FSC consists of the “core four” of Josh, Mama, Daddy, and me.  Sometimes we include my Grandma and Pop in the mix.  Other times, my cousin Clay and his wife Lauren join us.  The most important thing to remember is that if you don’t want to cook for a group of twelve, keep it small.

2.  Plan.  This was the part of FSC that was most difficult at first.  If you don’t plan together with your group members, someone might screw up {or get their feelings hurt!}.  Mama and I sit down each Sunday either in person or via text to discuss our comings and goings for the week.  All members of the core four have access to one another’s Google Calendars so we know exactly when Josh and Daddy have fire meeting, I have cheer practice, or Mama has a board meeting.

After we’ve established the who and where, we plan the what.  I typically cook on Mondays and Wednesdays while Mama takes Tuesdays and Thursdays.  We keep Fridays and Saturdays open for date nights or whatnot.  Sometimes Mama and I go grocery shopping together and sometimes we don’t.  Regardless, we always have a plan in place before the work week begins.

3.  Prep on Sunday.  One of the best things we’ve ever done in our marriage is to go to the market and prep all of our meals on Sunday.  Anything that needs slicing, dicing, chopping, or marinating gets done on Sunday.  We also prep our breakfasts {chia seed overnight oats} and lunches {usually grilled chicken, a complex carb, and a roasted veggie} at the same time.  It’s such a relief on our scheduled nights when I can come home, play with Atlas, grab the gallon-sized Ziploc bag labeled Monday, dump the contents in a pan, and call it a day.

4.  Cook!  It doesn’t have to be fancy!  I love spending time in the kitchen and I especially love trying new recipes, but I’ve learned to save that experimentation for our summer holiday.  Mama and I both utilize the Crockpot quite often and we each have a handful of healthy, filling recipes that are both tasty and easy to prepare.

5.  If at first you don’t succeed, fry, fry a hen.  Just kidding.  Working out the schedules of a family in the 21st century is a little bit like origami.  Sometimes our most well-planned weeks fall to the wayside.  Sometimes life just happens.  Don’t let one bad week ruin something that is ultimately meant to simplify your life.

Would you ever start your own Family Supper Club?  Or have you already got a similar system in place that works?  Let me know in the comments!

Happy Holidays!

XOXO,

Court

P.S.  My favorite recipe ever.

This makes washing up after FSC a breeze.

If you want to follow our FSC exploits, follow our hashtag #familysupperclub.

My Favorite Things: Cookbooks

I don’t know about you, but I’m a sucker for a great cookbook.  I keep them in stacks on my nightstand and read through them like my favorite novels.  The best recipes are like love stories, full of both richness and sweetness and hints of bitter.  Here are my top favorite cookbooks:

1.  Mastering the Art of French Cooking by:  Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, & Simone Beck

As a worshiper at the throne of the Great Julia, this was an easy investment.  The recipes are detailed and methodical and Julia is just so terribly charming.  I’ve read both volumes from cover to cover several times over.  Order here.

Favorite recipes:  Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic, Chicken with Mushrooms, Port, & Cream

2.  Foolproof by:  Ina Garten

The Barefoot Contessa is my favorite after school program {no, really}.  Ina is one of my top role models {a political analyst turned home chef!} and when my brother-in-law gifted me Foolproof for Christmas, I instantly ignored all my other presents to read through this gorgeously detailed book.  Purchase here.

Favorite recipes:  Perfect Poundcake, Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts, and Straw & Hay Pasta

3.  Nigella Kitchen:  Recipes from the Heart of the Home by:  Nigella Lawson

All cocaine charges notwithstanding, Nigella Lawson is an awesome home cook.  Every recipe is equal parts comforting, accessible, and sexy.  She’s delightfully entertaining to watch and she’s equally as entertaining in writing.  Many of the recipes in this book are quick and tasty.  Order here.

Favorite recipes:  Curly Pasta with Feta, Spinach, & Pine Nuts, Indian Roasted Potatoes, & Slut’s Spaghetti {no, really}

4.  It’s All Good by:  Gwyneth Paltrow

Set aside any preconceived notions about Gwyneth Paltrow & her goop lifestyle before reading this book and you’ll adore it.  The salad section alone is enough to feed us for the entire summer and the Captain goes nuts for the different dressing recipes.  This cookbook is especially helpful to anyone with Celiac disease or food allergies {like me}.

Favorite recipes:  The Best Chicken Soup Ever, Mexican Green Goddess Dressing, and Brown Rice Pasta with Tuna, Olives, Capers, & Parsley

5.  The Pioneer Woman by:  Ree Drummond

Technically I don’t own any of Ree Drummond’s cookbooks because I frequent her blog so often.  What’s more shocking than how comforting and simple her recipes are is the fact that so many people hate The Pioneer Woman.  Like, I’ve had other women harass me online because I’ve pinned her recipes before.  I think it’s because she’s not a trained chef and she sometimes takes shortcuts or maybe it’s because she’s built a profitable empire.  Either way, women tearing down other women online is not cool.  Ree is personable and her recipes are easy to follow.  You can access her recipes by clicking here.

Favorite Recipes:  Cajun Chicken Pasta, Salisbury Steak {no, really}, and Sunday Night Stew

What about you?  What are your favorite cookbooks?  Do you have shelves full of them like me or do you download ebooks on your iPad?

XOXO,

Court

Resolution Update

It seems a little silly that we’re already updating about our resolutions, but I made a crazy amount of progress on our 52-week organizational challenge today.  I drew five very satisfactory lines through weeks one through five.  You read that correctly.  Today I spent the day completely overhauling my kitchen and even though it’s 10:00 at night and I’ve got horrific dishpan hands, the feeling of satisfaction is so worth it.  It felt great to pull out everything, sift through the growing pile of unwanted junk, and sanitize everything.  I even had Josh pull the stove away from the wall so I could scrub up everything that had been hiding {greasy dust is the worst}.

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My cheerful kitchen which coincidentally mimics a lot of Pantone’s 2014 color choices.  Follow me on Instagram @courtneycallicutt!

What about you?  What resolutions did you make?  Have you already broken any?  What keeps you motivated?

XOXO,

Court

P.S.

We’re prepping for the Daniel Fast along with my parents, so Mama and I will be updating with fast-friendly recipes.

I’m super excited about Laken’s 14-Day Healthy + Wellness Challenge {it’s not too late to sign up}.

I was up to my elbows in this cleaning set today and it was amazing.

We have the world’s laziest puppy:

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New Year, New Goals {2014}

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In the past we’ve always posted our goals separately.  Men and women are truly different beasts and as such, our goals typically differ.  This year we’ve made a joint decision to build new habits in order to make our home a more successful place to love and live.

2013 was tough.  We were away from home far too much {for this introvert’s taste}, we ate out far too much, and our home was far too messy.  We both coach during the fall {Varsity Football Cheerleading for me & middle school wrestling for Josh}, and our home just sort of spiraled out of control when the two seasons overlapped.  Laundry was done on an as-needed basis, deep-cleaning never happened, and clutter piled up at an astonishing rate.  Coaching isn’t going away and neither is our busy schedule {or the traveling}, so last night the Captain and I sat down and listed our daily, weekly, and monthly goals to keep our home running in ship-shape {his words, not mine}.

Building good habits takes time and we’ve reached the point where we’re ready to make a commitment to change.  We’re implementing a 52-week organizational challenge, keeping each other accountable to our daily, weekly, and monthly goals, and making a commitment to making us better.

Here are a few of our weekly goals:

  • Wipe down the counters each evening.
  • Put away random clutter each day.
  • Cook dinner each evening.
  • Prepare lunches the night before each workday.
  • Stick to a consistent laundry schedule {wash, dry, fold, and put away clothes each Wednesday & Saturday}.
  • Follow the chore chart.

Here are a few tools I’m using to keep me organized:

The Simplified Recipe binder {on sale for $18, buy here}.  My MIL gifted me this binder along with the organizer sheets for Christmas.  I’ve already started filling it with menu ideas, shopping lists, and old family recipes.  Everything that has to do with food is in one place and as an added bonus, everything is pretty.

The Simplified Life Binder {starter kit, $54binder, $24}.  I love this product because it’s easily personalized to tailor-fit your needs.  I’d recommend buying the binder separately and purchasing the refill packs that suit your needs.  I love these dividers, the t0-do sheet lists, these goal-planning sheets, and these monthly/weekly calendar sheets.  You can also access tons of free printables for Emily Ley here.

The best part about blogging is the accountability we’re burdened with.  When we talk about a goal or plan, we feel extra pressure to succeed.  In addition, when we fail, we strive for transparency by being honest about it.  In an effort to stick to our 52-week organizational challenge, we’ll be updating you each week via our Instagram accounts.  Just check for the hashtag #52Callicutt to see our progress.  In addition, we’ll continue talking more about our daily, weekly, and monthly goals and how we’re planning to build better habits.  In the end, our ultimate goal is grace, not perfection.

What about you?  What are your goals for 2014?  Are you losing weight?  Hitting the gym?  Let us know in the comments section!

Happy New Year!

XOXO,

Court

 

.atlas.

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In case anyone missed it, we’re getting a puppy.  He’s an adorable Boxer-Lab mix and we’ve decided to call him Atlas.  All of our pets are named after Greek deities…Atlas is no different.  We named him after the Titan Atlas, forced to hold the universe on his shoulders.  As a bonus, his name is a not-so-subtle tribute to one of our favorite works of literature.  And yes…we’re those unfortunate, cold, strange Libertarians who quote Rand at an annoying rate.

Though I have little experience, puppies must be similar to babies as they require tons of stuff.  As first-time parents, we obviously want our little one to have the best of everything:

DIY project via

Emily at Jones Design Company also has a pup named Atlas.  She has a gorgeous, simple DIY project that features natural-colored drop cloth and hand-distressed lettering.

Bourbon and Boots has a wonderful selection of collars.  I like the gingham one for Baby Atlas and the leather one for 70-pound adult Atlas.  Bonus:  the leather collars are made in Georgia!

$24//available here

$30//available here

These dog food canisters from Ballard Designs are so appealing.  The price is {of course} completely outrageous for the actual purpose of the product.  I’ve saved several of those popcorn containers that children receive at Christmas {you know…the ones full of neon orange cheddar popcorn?} and I plan to give them a coat of chalkboard paint.  Functionality that is aesthetically pleasing makes me giddy.

I love this food/water bowl combo because it comes with lids.

$27.99//Purchase here

I like this harness because it’s preppy and sweet.

$18.99//Purchase here

And it makes sense that his fashion sense matches his proud Papa’s, right?

$10//Purchase here

In addition to watching training videos online, Josh has been reading Water Dog .  It’s sentimental for me because he’s using the same copy that Daddy used to train my beloved Golden Retriever, Catfish Sally.  Both Daddy and Josh highly recommend Water Dog as an excellent training manual and peek into the psychology of a dog.

We’re so ready to welcome our baby home.

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As a side note, does anyone have any advice on how to acclimate our buddies to their new brother?  We’re a little nervous about the big transition!

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Flowers

Our farmhouse is a rental.  Yes, it belongs  to my family, but it’s semi-permanent.  I struggle with this feeling of semi-permanence because the long-term goals I have in mind for our home just aren’t practical in a rental that’s inching closer and closer to the century-old mark.  My biggest desire is to eventually have a garden full of flowers–peonies, roses, daffodils, hydrangeas–I want them all.  Sometimes in long meetings, I catch myself sketching layouts for the perfect arrangement of annuals and perennials, but growing flowers is impractical in this season of my life.  We’ve got a lovely little vegetable garden full of squash, zucchini, eggplant, okra, peppers, and tomatoes that Josh attends to on a daily basis.  For now we’ll stick with the very practical vegetation and I’ll continue to dream of flowers…

XOXO,

Court

*All photos link to original sources.

Rejoice & Encourage: A Crusade for Women

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 Though the Lenten season is a difficult one, I rejoice in my quiet times of reflection.  My thoughts come with clarity and I feel I have a better ability to draw conclusions from my journal entries.  One reoccurring theme in each entry is the idea that life is like a great juggling act—some balls float effortlessly through the air like graceful butterflies in the spring breeze while others balls constantly clunk clumsily to the ground like a baby learning to toddle.  Things like Relationships and Faith seem to be more delicate and are juggled with great care.  Other necessities like Mopping, Ironing, and Not Eating Cookies for Dinner Because You’re a Freaking Adult seem to be of less importance.  Those juggling balls are sturdier and can be dropped without fear.

 If my conclusion is true and life is an epic and fragile act of balance, we as faulty humans need assistance in our efforts to keep the important things afloat.  Surely the good Lord is watching over us in our acrobatic attempts for His eye is on the Sparrow, but we humans require relationships with other humans.  We need positive fellowship because as living creatures, we relate to other creatures.  While every one of us is different in our abilities, I’ve noticed that as a whole, women struggle with this.

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 Picture a mother in the grocery store who is well shod, perfectly coiffed, and dressed like she stepped freshly off the streets of Paris during Fashion Week.  Her children are of course, in perfectly starched outfits with pleats and smocking.  The smart looking bow tying back her daughter’s curls perfectly coordinates with her expensive looking stockings.

 The immediate reaction is to think something dreadfully terrible like who on God’s green Earth has the time or money for that?  What a Stepford Wife!

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 Picture yet another woman, a career minded lady with goals and aspirations.  Perhaps she’s without children or a spouse but she has a sporty car and a plush penthouse.  She’s an ace in the business world with a firm command of the boardroom.

 Why doesn’t she get married and have children?  This isn’t Working Girl!

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Or how about this scenario?  The Room Mother of your child’s class makes Easter goodie bags for the students.  They’re sweet and cute and obviously took a lot of time and effort.  She delivers her wares with pride and the children enjoy their homemade sweet treats along with the perfunctory Cheetos and store-bought cupcakes.

 Who has time to make goodie bags?  And homemade candies, cookies, and cheese straws?  She’s just trying to show me up!

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 An exhausted looking woman shuffles through the freezer section at the market dressed in yoga pants and an oversized Atlanta Hawks t-shirt.  Her hair is obviously filthy, she’s wearing Chacos and she isn’t even hiking, and her eye makeup was totally done for hours ago.  And to be honest, that frozen pizza she’s reaching for isn’t going to do her any favors.  {P.S. this is me}

 That girl has let herself go.  She obviously hasn’t worked out in months, so why’s she wearing yoga pants?  And her toenails are totally ratchet.

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 The point is women need to give each other a break.  We need to rejoice in womanly triumphs and support one another in both good times and bad times.

 The woman with the seemingly perfect children?  The balls she likes to juggle are obviously different from the mom who allows her daughter to dress herself.  And you know what?  That’s okay.  We need to rejoice in both the triumph of perfect pleats and the beauty of holey jeans.

 The Working Girl?  Yes, her aspirations differ from the dreams of a stay-at-home mother.  We should rejoice each time a merger and acquisition takes place.  Likewise, we should validate each batch of homemade play dough.

 That Room Mother who finds fulfillment in baked goods?  Rejoice in her accomplishments!  The mother who is doing all she can to drop off a bag of Lays and a two-liter soda should be celebrated as well.  Why does one have to be better than the other?

 And that poor woman in the freezer section who is obviously wearing her husband’s ratty old t-shirt?  Instead of instantly judging her for looking exactly how we all feel at the end of the day, offer a smile or nod of encouragement.  As women, we have days when we’re at the top of our game.  Likewise, we have days where we’re so low, we’re not completely certain that we’ll regain our footing.  If women as a whole could switch off that sinfully automatic “judging” switch in favor for the “encouragement” switch or the “rejoice for the accomplishments of others” switch, the world would be a better place.

 Life is a balancing act, both delicate and intricate in nature.  The balls or clubs we juggle may differ, but we each require support and encouragement from others.  Once the Lenten season is over, I plan to continue to encourage other women instead of judging them for having different priorities.  Will you join my Crusade?

It’s a Beautiful Day

I woke up this morning and felt like this.  Perhaps it is because I slept until my body naturally woke up.  Or maybe it’s because it’s Wednesday, December 19th and I’m not expected back at work until January 7th.  It could also be because when my alarm did not abruptly awaken me this morning, I was able to soak in all the sensations of waking:  my left foot against Josh’s right foot, the sunshine streaming through the white linen curtains, the gentle purring of Perseus and Achilles–everything I hold precious and dear all within my reach.

It’s amazing what a Christmas holiday can do for the morale.  I leapt from bed and whipped up some spiced milk to go with our morning coffee and steel cut oats.  I found the recipe here.

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We did not sleep in this morning.  It’s not in my nature, especially with such a beautiful day just waiting outside our door.  We woke up, bundled up, and went for a walk.

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We have a few days in our cosy little farmhouse and then we’ll be celebrating Christmas in three different states.  It feels good to slow down and actually enjoy quality time without the use of our DVR.  Josh has several carpentry projects going on out in the barn & I’m going to bake cinnamon rolls for friends and neighbors.  We’re also getting our home ready for some new additions:  namely a brood of free-range chickens and maybe {please, Josh, please} a rabbit.

Did you know that rabbit waste is high in nitrogen and it’s a great idea to have a rabbit hutch over your compost pile?  Plus, they are just adorable.

Celebrate a small victory today.

XOXO,

Court