.what I love: September 2018.

It’s been so long since I’ve blogged that I literally had to request a new password login for WordPress.  It’s a little depressing because writing is so life-giving and I genuinely enjoy planning content and writing, but graduate school is a demanding mistress.  One day when I’m totally finished, I hope to blog at least once or twice a week–we’ve even thrown around the idea of starting our own YouTube channel just for the heck of it, but until I’m done with research, data, research, data, APA, and more data, I’ll have to settle for little pockets of time when my coursework is turned in, my husband is busy, and my toddler is sleeping.

Here are my favorites from September (PS, can y’all believe it’s October already?  And that it’s still 95 degrees everyday?):

Food:

  • Lily’s Dark Chocolate Chips.  These are perfect when I throw them into grain-free pancake mix.  Josh and I are both dark chocolate lovers, but the milk chocolate chips are great, too.  I like that these don’t have that sugar alcohol aftertaste that you run into so often with sugar-free products.  And seriously, nothing is cuter than Annabeth Shealy when her face is covered in butter, melted dark chocolate, and bits of pancake.
  • Simple Mills Almond Flour Crackers.  I’ll be honest, I miss the convenience of grains.  My favorite lunch is a tapas-style snack plate (cheese, a little fruit, some olives, cured meats, and some crispy, delicious crackers).  Sometimes you just need some crunch that doesn’t come from a pork rind!  These crackers are SO good–we love all the flavors.  I usually pack a handful of these to have with a Laughing Cow cheese wedge.

Clothing:

  • THML Tops.  I’m a boutique kind of gal.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ll totally shop at J. Crew and Old Navy and Belk, but I love finding unique pieces at boutiques.  My recent favorite transitional pieces (because it’s still miserably hot here in Georgia) include lots of THML tops paired with white jeans and boots.  I love the intricate embroidery, rich colors, and the fact that most of them don’t require any ironing.  They also look great paired with a cardigan or green army jacket.
  • Tieks.  It’s usually around this time a year that I start wearing my Tieks on a daily basis.  In February we spent a week in New York City and I wore my Tieks nearly everyday and felt totally comfortable (walking 25,000 plus steps a day while pushing a stroller).  I sized up when I bought mine and have been super pleased with them.  They’re pricey–like, made my stomach hurt when I clicked “Purchase” pricey, but I have literally lived in them.  When you try to run a Google search for negative Tieks reviews, you won’t find many.  They’re a high quality product and the company has great customer service.

Product:

  • Estee Lauder Double Wear Foundation.  Seriously the best foundation I’ve ever used.  It’s definitely a heavier foundation…if you’re looking for something lighter, the Water Fresh Double Wear is great, too.  I’ve been using Double Wear since May and I don’t foresee myself swapping out for anything else.  Bonus:  Estee Lauder counters will color match you and whip up a 10-day sample to try for free!
  • Clinique Moister Surge Intense Moisturizer.  My friend Cassie brought me a jar of this moisturizer when I was hospital after delivering Annabeth.  I hadn’t used Clinique in years, but this stuff is the best.  It’s so moisturizing that it makes my skin feel full, but it isn’t greasy.  I have super dry skin so I like the “intense” version of this moisturizer.  I also love that a little bit goes a long way–last year I only went through three jars.

Media:

  • Jack Ryan.  We’re huge fans of The Office and this show (featuring Jim Halpert 2.0) was fantastic.  Josh has started reading the Jack Ryan/Tom Clancy novels in order because this show was so intense and amazing.  It felt like they literally ripped the plot from the headlines.  Bonus:  it’s only eight episodes, so you can totally binge it in one weekend.
  • Audible.  Audible is an audiobook subscription available through Amazon.  For $15 a month, you get one credit to use towards any audiobook in the Audible library (there are thousands). We’ve actually had it a long time and forgot about it, so we had a ton of credits built up that we’ve been putting to good use!  We each have about a 20 minute commute, so we listen as we drive and we also listen while we run.  Sometimes I listen to whatever I’m “reading” while I get ready in the morning or while I’m cooking dinner.  So far I’ve “read” The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society (FIVE STARS), The Coincidence of Coconut Cake (FOUR STARS), America’s First Daughter (FOUR STARS), and I’m currently listening to Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow.  Josh has been listening to Patriot Games and I noticed just yesterday that he’s already downloaded the next Tom Clancy book in the lineup.
  • The Greatest Showman Soundtrack.  Amazing.  I literally cry every time This is Me comes on.  We haven’t even finished the movie yet (I KNOW), but we listen to the soundtrack almost every day.  We especially love listening and dancing around before bathtime and Annabeth’s bedtime routine.

Annabeth:

  • Squeaker Shoes.  They’re super obnoxious, but they make Annabeth so happy (and it’s easy to keep up with her in a crowd).  I tend to stick to the classics when it comes to dressing Annabeth, so we’re not really into Converse or super trendy items.  These little Mary Jane shoes are cute and she loves wearing them.  When Josh took them off of her last night, she cried and demanded, “Shoes ON, Daddy!”
  • Dohm White Noise Machine.  Annabeth is a fantastic sleeper, but she’s pretty particular about her sleeping arrangements.  She’s a creature of consistency so she likes her blackout curtains, her Owlet (she can now request it by name), her Halo Sleep Sack, and most importantly, her Dohm.  I’m not quite sure how it works, but it sounds like a really loud fan, but it doesn’t blow any air out of it.  I actually don’t mind when we stay in a hotel room with her because I like sleeping with it, too.  It’s adjustable and has an on/off switch (most white noise machines that have timed options only run for ten hours and she sleeps for twelve hours each night).

Is it still super hot where you live, or do you actually get to enjoy some autumn weather this time of year?  We’re heading to the mountains next week and it’s supposed to be much cooler–I can’t wait!

XOXO,

Court

PS-Football season has been both wonderful and exhausting.  I’m dreading the end of it, but I’m also really looking forward to it.

 

.jolly old st. nick.

There are so many decisions young families face, especially when welcoming a new baby into the fold.  Breast or bottle?  And if you choose to do the bottle, what type?  What about pacifiers?  Nursery school or nanny?  Sleep training (YES, please) or co-sleeping (no thanks)?  And on the other side of every single decision is harsh judgement from everyone from close relatives to the nosy lady you always run into at the market (you know the type…The Sock Dictator).

One decision that was easy for us was Santa Claus.  In my pre-parenting days, I was wholly against the idea of Santa Claus.  I’m not really even sure why because per my Mother’s rules, I still technically have to believe in old St. Nick in order to receive any gifts at her house.  I think I perhaps wanted all the credit for the massive amount of work that a great Christmas requires, but now that I am a mother in my own right, I’m all for it (the IT being all things magical and festive).

I’m the mother who made my two-month old leave out carrots for the Easter Bunny, so  of course we’re not only leaving out cookies for Santa on a special plate, but we’re also making reindeer feed to sprinkle in our yard and leaving out carrots for Rudolph.  And of course, I have a Burl Ives vinyl to play on our vintage record player that sits beneath our mammoth tree.  And of course we all have matching Christmas pajamas.  Childhood only happens once and it’s only for a few years, so it may as well be magical.

Another thing that was easy for us to decide was how we wanted to go about giving presents from Santa.  Annabeth is spoiled absolutely rotten by her Darling and Pop (especially her Darling).  My Mother buys her shoes, clothing, toys, books, and puzzles constantly and has been squirreling away Christmas gifts since before she was born.  My Mother is the Queen of Christmas and of Giving (and my Daddy is the lovable Clark Griswold type who often asks, “What did I get you?” on Christmas morning when we’re unwrapping gifts).  Since I’m directly related to the Queen of Christmas and of Giving, I knew it would probably be smart to limit what Santa brings to Annabeth by dividing her gifts into four categories:  something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read.

I’m hoping that by limiting myself to four gifts, I’ll be able to find the most special and significant gifts and create a heart of gratefulness in Annabeth.  I also know myself enough to know that I would literally go broke if I got her everything I wanted to purchase her.  If all else fails, Baby Jesus only got three gifts and if it was good enough for the Savior of All Mankind, then four gifts will be good enough for Annabeth Shealy (nothing like a Southern Baptist mother to lay it on thick!).

This year Annabeth’s something you want is a Pottery Barn Anywhere Chair.  In October PBKids had a massive sale and I got her chair at a great price.  I chose the Light Pink option because it matches her bedding and Boppy cover.  She has a small chair at my Mother and Daddy’s house that she loves, so I thought this would be a sweet addition to our living room.

Annabeth’s something you need is a sweet little riding toy I found at Target called a Buggly Wuggly.  My petite girl is just too tiny for most riding or pushing toys, so this was a perfect choice for her.  I’m also kind of a witch when it comes to toys (not in the living room) and baby paraphernalia (why the primary colors????), so the muted tones help soften the blow a bit.

The something to wear portion of this list is kind of a joke because Annabeth Shealy is never without something sweet to wear.  Between my Mother and myself, she’s got all the lace and frills and smocks and monograms she’ll ever need.  I opted to go with a sweet dress from Cecil and Lou and got our sweet new nephew Asher the matching romper for our Christmas day festivities.  I didn’t care for the fonts offered for these particular outfits, so I had them monogrammed with this one instead.

The something you read part was simple.  Over the summer, Josh read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone to Annabeth.  He took great delight in this pastime and did all sorts of accents and voices.  My sweet cousin Lauren gave me this beautifully illustrated copy for Christmas last year.  Josh can’t wait to read Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets to her!  And if you’re wondering, we absolutely read chapter books to our baby.

We decided to let stocking stuffers be from Mommy and Daddy.  We did a handful of bath toys (our little mermaid baby loves the water) and this bracelet for when she gets older.

How do you do Christmas in your home?  Santa or Belsnickel or no Santa at all?

XOXO,

Court

PS, I got this for Josh for Christmas.  I know nothing about these types of things, but I also know he’s been dying to open it since it arrived.

PSS, I’m dreaming of a Tory Burch Christmas (don’t let me down, Santa).

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

10 Books That Changed My Life

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1.  Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell.

When I First Read It:  Fourth Grade {no kidding}

Why I Love It:  I can be just as cold and calculating and manipulative as Scarlett O’Hara Hamilton Kennedy Butler and I’m not ashamed to admit it.  Thankfully, I have a one thousand page manifesto on how to get stuff done without throwing away happiness with both hands.  Plus, Rhett Butler is my spirit animal.

How It Changed My Life:  Scarlett had everything and she gave it up for a washed-up, weak excuse for a man.  From the tender age of nine, I vowed that the same would never happen to me.

Hashtag:  #TomorrowIsAnotherDay #FiddleDeeDee #GreatBallsOfFire

First Line:

Gone With the Wind

2.  Animal Farm by George Orwell.

When I First Read It:  8th Grade

Why I Love It:  It proves my favorite talking point—Communism is a gorgeous concept on paper but the human {or animal, rather} element will always guarantee its ultimate failure.

How It Changed My Life:  At the age of thirteen, it provided a vivid depiction of the destructive nature of Communism.

Hashtag:  #FourLegsGoodTwoLegsBetter #SomeAreMoreEqualThanOthers #IWillWorkHarder

First Line:

Animal Farm

3.  Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery 

When I First Read It:  Third Grade

Why I Love It:  My middle name is Anne.

How It Changed My Life:  More than anything else, Anne Shirley taught me that have an overactive imagination is a blessing, not an affliction.  Plus, Gilbert Blythe.

Hashtag:  #KindredSpirits #RaspberryCordial #BosomFriends #DressesWithPuffySleeves

First Line:

Anne

4.  Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

When I First Read It:  Third Grade

Why I Love It:  The idea that Wendy Darling got to lord over a dozen or so little boys was terribly captivating {and still kinda is}.

How It Changed My Life:  Wendy taught me that change is necessary, so it may as well be embraced.  Peter taught me that dating a man-child is a waste of time.

Hashtag:  #HookOrMeThisTime #Wendybird #ToDieWillBeAnAwfullyBigAdventure

First Line:

Peter Pan

5.  Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

When I First Read It:  Last year {and it took an abysmally long time}

Why I Love It:  Finishing and comprehending this book made me feel like I finally deserved to vote.

How It Changed My Life:  I finally realized without a shadow of a doubt that {like it or not} I am a cold-hearted Libertarian.

Hashtag:  #WhoIsJohnGalt #ReardenSteel #GaltsGulch

First Line:

Atlas Shrugged

6.  Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

When I First Read It:  Third Grade

Why I Love It:  Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy gave me the chance to know what it would be like to have sisters.

How It Changed My Life:  At the ripe old age of nine, Louisa May Alcott taught me that sometimes life doesn’t go as planned.  People may die, the jelly won’t always jell, and your sister might marry the love of your life.  Regardless, you have to put on your big girl panties {pantaloons?} and deal with it.

Hashtag:  #ThereWereNeverSuchDevotedSisters #PickledLimes

First Line:

Little Women

7.  Mugged:  Racial Demagoguery from the Seventies to Obama by Ann Coulter 

When I First Read It:  Last summer

Why I Loved It:  It’s well-researched and quite tart in tone.

How It Changed My Life:  I never realized how far politicians will go insure votes.  I also didn’t know where the phrase “drank the Kool-Aid,” came from until reading this book.

Hashtag:  #OJVerdict #DrankTheKoolAid #AlGoresDadWasSuperRacist

First Line:

Mugged

8.  Emma by Jane Austen

When I First Read It:  10th Grade

Why I Love It:  I identify with Emma Woodhouse in a way that is both terribly frightening and enlightening.

How It Changed My Life:  Giving others very good advice while seldom following it oneself is a horrific habit.

Hashtag:  #AllTheSingleLadies #DearEmma

First Line:

Emma

9.  Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

When I First Read It:  Sixth Grade

Why I Loved It:  After years of being teased, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named finally made an actual appearance.  I also love the idea of Durmstrang and Beauxbatons spending the year at Hogwarts.

How It Changed My Life:  A year or so after reading about Harry’s fourth year at Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I lost several people in quick succession.  It may sound lame to adult me, but thirteen year old me realized that if Harry could watch Cedric Diggory die at the hands of Voldemort, I could process scary real-life things like cancer.

Hashtag:  #SPEW #TriWizardTournament #QuidditchWorldCup

First Line:

Harry

10.  Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte 

When I First Read It:  Freshman year of college

Why I Loved It:  I have a {slightly unhealthy} thing for self-loathing jerks and Mr. Rochester takes the cake.  {I could fix that man, really I could}.

How It Changed My Life:  Jane taught me to not be a doormat.

Hashtag:  #AlwaysMakeSureTheDeadWifeIsReallyDead

First Line:

Jane

Calling All Bookworms!

My beloved friend Jamie and I both tend to be big dreamers.  In fact, we discovered three years ago that we’re almost exactly the same.  Sometimes this won’t work in a relationship, but luckily for us, it does.  Jamie’s moving back to good ol’ FCHS with me this year and I’m ecstatic.  Yesterday we briefly discussed starting a monthly book club and in typical Courtney fashion, I ran with the idea.  If you live in the area and might be interested in meeting one night each month for a structured discussion on a previously selected text, please contact me via Twitter, Facebook, or email {courtneycallicutt@gmail.com}.

I’m a great believer in structure, but I’m also a great believer in the need for human interaction and fellowship.  I want Book Club {we don’t have a name yet!} to be a place of intellectual discussion, but I also crave intimate conversation, support, and a hot cup of tea.  

I crave inspiration…

And whimsy…

And maybe a touch of Old World elegance…

I honestly see this as an opportunity for women with shared interests to pour into the lives of others both intellectually and emotionally.  Would you care to join us?