Wednesday, October 17, 2018

fashionista

Do you like to read blogs? I guess if you're here reading this one we can safely assume you like to read a blog, but have you ever searched out any others? I have gotten out of the habit of reading them in the last year or so, but there are still a few that I check on a fairly regular basis. 

Soulemama was one of the very first blogs I started reading way back around 2010. I love to read her stories and hear about her growing family. I've been reading for so long now that I sort of feel like I know her. And I'm certain that if we ever met, we would become fast friends. (Please tell me that you do this, too? Feel certain that you would be friends with people you admire if only you could just meet? Or am I a creepy weirdo stalker? Nevermind, don't answer that.) 

Another blog I started reading just recently is that of one of my favorite knitters, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (the yarn harlot). She is hilarious and an amazing knitter and person in general, and I love reading her blog almost as much as I love reading her books. 


And lastly, every few days I try to get caught up on what's going on over at A Cup of Jo. Joanna and her team put together several smart, funny, timely posts every week, and I always look forward to hearing what they have to say. 

All of that to say that my post for you today is a rip-off of a popular series on A Cup of Jo called "A Week of Outfits." I took Annabel shopping for some cool weather clothes (now that fall (winter?) has finally arrived - hooray!) a couple weeks ago and she is darling in her sweet little dresses, jeans and sweaters. She is so excited to get dressed and keeps telling me "Mom, I look so cute in this outfit!" that I decided to offer her her own post here on WeThree. A week's worth of outfits, each of her own choosing, to showcase her style here for you. She jumped (leaped, bounded, hurdled a tall building in a single bound) at the chance.

So, without further ado, here is "A Week of Outfits - Annabel Williams."


Monday

In her words: "I like this outfit because I like to play around with the heart. I like the silver side, too." (Editor's note: The heart switches between pink and silver sequins.)
Jacket: Justice; Sweater and jeans: H&M Kids; Booties: Old Navy

Tuesday



In her words: "I like this outfit because it's stylish. I love the jacket and the high heels."
Dress: H&M Kids

Wednesday

In her words: "I like this shirt because I like polka dots. The jeans have sparkly dots, too."
Sweater: Target; Pants: H&M Kids

Thursday

In her words: "I like my shirt because it has stars on it and my pants do, too! My boots are so fluffy!"
Shirt: H&M Kids; Leggings: Target; Boots: Target

Friday

In her words: "I love the hedgehog because it is pink! My jeans have a fluffy inside that is pink with polka dots."
Shirt: Target; Jeans: H&M Kids


If you have kids, do you ever look at them and think, "How did she...come from me?!" When I'm listening to Annabel talk or when I see her coming down the stairs in the morning with another cute outfit on, that sentence above is almost always the first thought that pops into my head. I am the least "girly" girl that I know. How did she end up being into fashion and shoes?! She wants to wear make-up (um, no), get her ears pierced, wear booties and dresses and insisted on that jean jacket when I was skeptical. But I love watching her come into her own in every way, not just when it comes to what she's wearing. She's very into soccer and running club, has a new-found love of science, and loves to wear the latest fashions. I'd say that's a pretty well-rounded kid right there. And all with not a whole lot of prompting from Will or I. She knows what she likes and she goes after it wholeheartedly. Love my sweet girl. 

Monday, October 15, 2018

easy pumpkin butter

I ended up leaving my job after Bodhi was born. Although there were definitely times when I had considered being a stay-at-home mom, I fully planned on going back to work; my company had just gone through a major restructure and a new job in the non-perishable grocery industry was waiting for me. But then Bodhi surprised us by coming early -- five weeks early, with a pair of underdeveloped lungs. He is completely healthy now, but we did spend some time in the NICU and then multiple weeks waiting and waiting until he was old enough to be tested for an additional condition. At our last appointment he was deemed healthy -- but the pulmonologist gave me a warning. Daycare, he said, in the midst of the cold and flu season (one of the worst on record), could put him right back into the NICU. It took me a week to finally power on my work laptop and send the e-mail, but not long after that I was no longer employed.

I struggled finding work-life balance with my job (I wrote a little about that here) and so I can only imagine how I would be feeling now if I was trying to work and be the best mom that I can be for Bodhi. Robert and I also happened to work at the same company, in the same field, and the hours can be long; if I was working we would both probably be seeing him for two or three hours max per day. Being home, I get to really savor each phase that he goes through. Had I gone back to work, I would have missed those mornings when we danced around the living room to The Jungle Book soundtrack, those afternoons when he couldn't sleep and I held him for hours in the rocker, those early evenings when it was cool and we walked while listening to the crickets chirp.  And so, staying home has been one of the best decisions I've made. But it wasn't the easiest at first.*

tiny Bodhi asleep in the rocker (😭😭😭)

The thing is, coming from a corporate job, I was sort-of addicted to being busy. And it's not that you're not busy as a stay-at-home mom it's just that it's a different kind of busy. At work I had reports to pull, meetings to attend, phone calls to answer, ads to build, projections to make, product reviews to accomplish, e-mails to respond to (oh God, the E-MAILS). A lot of days it felt like I didn't have a spare second to think until I left for the day. At home I have a baby to take care of, a household to keep clean and running, meals to cook and I have to be "on" 100% of the time which can be exhausting (especially since Mr. B stopped taking a bottle at six months). And sometimes, with only a baby to talk to all day and limited adult interaction, the day can feel long, I have a lot of time to think, and I sometimes start to feel like a different version of myself; the Carrie that is only a mom, and nothing else.

one of those "beginning goals" weeks (see below) 

I'm sure you're wondering what this has to do with pumpkin butter.  Well, I realized this conundrum pretty early on in my maternity leave and knew that I had to do something to make sure that I maintained my vision for myself; the Carrie that had been for thirty-one years before welcoming a baby. And so, every week I made some goals. In the beginning, when we were breastfeeding around the clock and sleeping very little, they were small: wash my face, change my clothes, clean something, eat a healthy lunch, call a family member or friend, leave the house (even if it was just to go to the Starbucks drive-through), etc. But as Bodhi got older and started taking longer, more frequent naps (until the 4-8 month time-frame which is a whooooooole other post) my goals evolved: get out of the house more often, plan a get together with friends, make a certain number of dinners per week, do a yoga workout, make jam, etc. To this day (we're a little past the 10-month mark), I still do this and this past week making pumpkin butter was on my list. I really love the fall and having toast with pumpkin butter on a Saturday morning is one of those October things that I just want to do every year. This recipe is really, really easy and it makes a lot; perfect for sharing with a friend (and bonus that it gives you a reason to take a drive and drop it off at her house).

best if eaten on an English Muffin

Ingredients:
-30 oz. pumpkin puree 
-2/3 cup brown sugar
-1/4 cup pure maple syrup
-1/2 cup apple cider 
-1 tbsp. lemon juice
-2 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
-1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
-pinch of sea salt (to taste)

Method:
Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan set over medium-high heat. Let it come to a slow bubble. (This will be more like mud bubbling than water because it's so thick). Reduce the heat to low and simmer for twenty minutes (at which point it should be very smooth). Check your seasoning and add additional sea salt if necessary. Allow to cool completely, then put into jars or airtight tupperware and store in the refrigerator (will last about three weeks).

*This goes without saying but I am very blessed to even have the option to stay home. Working moms are amazing and I can't even imagine the amount of practice that it takes to feel like you're getting to everything that's pulling at you. That said, I do think being a SAHM and a working mom each present their own sets of challenges, and it's okay to feel like you need "you" time whether you're in one role or the other. Just putting that out there because the internet is a great place for "shaming" behind the curtain of a computer screen. Let's all support each other. 

recipe source here 

Friday, October 12, 2018

finding a skincare routine

My 35th birthday is creeping up and as it gets closer I have a couple things on my mind.  Other than the fact that it feels like 40 is looming over my head; there are 2 things that I don't have a great handle on that I feel like I should.  

Skincare & makeup.  

In retrospect, I should have had the skincare routine down when I was in my early thirties - you know, something to keep the wrinkles at bay for a while longer.  I remember when I was in college, a friend of mine told me she was starting to look into anti-wrinkle cream.  My response?  Okay, go for it.  But I definitely did not think I needed to worry about that then.  Now, I'm wishing I would have listened to her and started taking better care of my skin back then.  

Over the past couple years, I have tried a few different products but always end up falling back on my old drugstore staple.  I really don't have any issues using drugstore products - I am just in search of more of a routine that will leave me feeling fresh.
I love the idea of skin first, makeup second and would love to feel so great about my skin that makeup is just a fun extra.  

Because of this, I gave Glossier a try maybe a year and a half ago. 

photo

All of their products look dreamy if you check out their website.  I only tried their milky jelly cleanser and priming moisturizer and although I liked the products, I ended up breaking out.  To be honest, I'm not sure if I gave it enough time and occasionally I think I should give it another try.  I am also interested in getting some of their makeup.  I have heard amazing things about Boy Brow and they recently came out with Lash Slick which I would really love to try.

In addition to Glossier, I tried BioClarity last spring.  They use "the power of plants and the smarts of science" to make a great product.


  But, I ended up kind of having the same issues that I had with Glossier except my skin felt red and irritated in some places. 

I gave up and went back to my old faithful...Olay Regenerist Facial Cleanser.  And that's about it!  I wash my face in the morning and most evenings...and I need to do better.  I know there is something to be said about having a great routine even if it's just that I would end up having a relaxing nightly ritual.  

So, I'm curious...do you have a skincare regimen that you follow?  What products do you love?  I'd love to hear your recommendations so be sure to leave them in the comments!  Next time, let's chat about makeup.

Have a great weekend!
xo

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

according to Instagram

One of my favorite ways to remember the little moments of our days is to record them on Instagram. If you'd like to see, here are some of the things we've been up to lately according to Instagram...


A couple weeks ago, Annabel missed four days of school with a mysterious fever virus. While she was home with me, we discovered a fantastic art channel on YouTube called "Art for Kids." For hours, she would lay on the floor drawing mermaids, unicorns, Disney characters, pigs, dolphins, etc. She drew so many pictures I had to search the house for more paper. Definitely check out Art for Kids if you have kids who love to draw.
I know I posted this photo last week but I just love looking at it. My two favorite things - Will and mountains.
Last week, Annabel decided to leave a little surprise for the mailman. She is the sweetest.

For some reason, fall makes me want to sit on the front porch. All spring and summer we happily sat on the back porch as often as possible, but now that it's fall, we've moved out front. On Sunday, we had a few hours between church and small group so I set up shop out there in a rocking chair with a book and my knitting. I had visitors popping in and out, one to read with me (and also sit on my lap for awhile), and one to play cards and show me his latest card tricks. I also somehow managed to get a genuine smile on camera from my boy - a rare accomplishment during these days when he doesn't like to have his picture taken. 


Since the kids were out of school on Monday, I met a friend to walk first thing and then we decided to take a trip to a local farm (Lloyd's Family Farm for anybody who's local) for some fall fun. It was a beautiful day and we had lots of fun running through the corn maze, eating burgers in the shade, playing in the corn pit, and walking through the pumpkin patch. 

After the pumpkin patch, we ran a few errands and then headed home. Since we had some time before dinner and soccer practice, I went back out to the porch to work on a new project that I am loving every second of so far. (The pattern is "Elfriede" from the newest issue of Laine Magazine.) Annabel offered to help me with dinner and suggested she make mac-n-cheese to go with our coconut-quinoa chicken and roasted carrots. How could I say no to a helper in the kitchen? 

Yesterday was a very good mail day for me - my newest issue of Taproot Magazine arrived, and I also received my copy of Jedidiah Jenkins first book, "To Shake the Sleeping Self." I randomly found Jedidiah on Instagram and was taken with his beautiful photos and insightful thoughts. So excited to read his book! I quickly read through the introduction (while sitting on the porch) yesterday afternoon and already don't want to put it down. 


So that's a little look at what we've been up to the last few weeks according to Instagram. Find me at chelsey.k.williams if you'd like. Looking forward to the cooler temperatures that are headed this way in a couple days. The calendar says fall, but the temps here say summer. Bring on the fall!

Monday, October 8, 2018

what's your favorite harry potter book?

A couple of Fridays ago I heard some bad news about a person that I really only distantly know. I sort of hate to say this, but in this day and age, we're pretty used to hearing bad news, right? I watch the news from 7-8AM every morning, am consistently horrified by what I see, and then shut it off and continue about my day as if chaos isn't ensuing all around the world. But for some reason that bad news on that Friday night stuck with me; I got into bed around 9:30 and at 11:45 I was still so wired and worried that I told a soundly sleeping Robert that I was going downstairs to try to sleep on the couch.


Sleep is pretty important to me, especially now, having Bodhi. He still (typically) wakes up once overnight and is a morning person, like both me and Robert, who wakes up for the day between 5:30 and 6:00 AM. Since I hate feeling tired during the day, I try to be asleep by 10:00. So on this night, in addition to my anxiety-inducing churning brain, I was a little fretful about still being awake at midnight. I knew my iPhone or the TV weren't the answer and was aimlessly paging through a Sunset Magazine when I remembered a recent article that I had read. It said that some insomniacs re-read favorite books over and over again to help them get to sleep at night. And suddenly, I was comforted. I got off the couch, grabbed Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone from my bookshelf and flipped through until I found the part where Harry is trying to get onto Platform 9 3/4: "Well, there you are, boy. Platform nine - platform ten. Your platform should be somewhere in the middle, but they don't seem to have built it yet, do they?"* I read about Harry meeting Ron, saw Hermione and Neville introduced, watched Harry stand up to Malfoy for the first time, fought my eyelids to get through the Sorting Hat's song and finally got to the part where Harry chooses his own fate, good over evil: "not Slytherin, not Slytherin." It was at that point that I finally fell asleep.

(Starting him young. I actually read the entire first book out loud to Bodhi when he was just a month old; it was a great way to pass the many, many hours we spent breastfeeding). 

Okay, I know what some of you may be thinking about crazy Harry Potter fans. I get it; a long, long time ago, when I was in middle school, I was one of you. I thought books about wizards sounded like something only those boys who were obsessed with the game Risk would enjoy. But if you've read the books you know that Harry Potter is more than just a series of books about wizards. When I open one of those books I feel like I'm stepping through the wardrobe into the fresh snow that covered Narnia. It's this whole other world that is so vivid and real and yet it only exists on paper. It's characters that feel like long lost friends. It's life lessons woven intricately into amazing story-telling.** It's escapism at its very, very best. Thinking back over the past fifteen years or so, I can actually pinpoint moments where I was seeking guidance and something from Harry Potter came to me:

When I worked for a crazy (but well-respected) boss and wondered if the problem was me:
"If you want to know what a man's like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals." -Sirius Black, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

When I didn't feel like meditating but I knew it helped my anxiety:
"Constant vigilance!" -Mad Eye Moody, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire 

When I was contemplating who to vote for in an election:
"Perhaps those who are best suited to power are those who have never sought it." -Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

When I was just having a bad week:
"Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light." -Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 

When I wrote an entire blog about my love for Harry and wondered if I'd be judged: (😂)
"I am what I am, an' I'm not ashamed." -Hagrid, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire 

It's pretty fitting that this moment happened in late September because September and October, the months that elicit that nostalgic fall feeling, are the months when I feel the urge to re-read one of my favorite Harry Potter books. So, I'm curious: for all of my fellow Harry Potter fans, which is your favorite book? (Or movie, if you're a movie fan. But let me tell you again, because I'm sure you've already been told, the movies simply don't do the books justice).

Personally, I fall into what I think is a majority in saying that my favorite book is #3, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I just think the plot was so smart in this book and it's also after this that the series takes a darker turn. I like the dark turn, but I also like the innocence of the first three books. That said, #3 is very closely followed by the final book, #7, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I love the idea of the deathly hallows; how they supposedly originated in an old children's tale, how they had been passed on, how it's a quest for believers. When I closed this book for the first time, I was just in awe of the genius of J.K. Rowling. So much of this series had to have been mapped out in her head at the start and it was just amazing to see it all come together in the end. On the flip side, I have a really hard time reading #5, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I won't get into the why, because I'm hoping this blog might inspire some non-readers to try the series, but I've probably only read this book twice.

(Visiting Hogwarts in 2016)

Okay, so I really want to know! Tell me your favorite book in the comments here or over on Instagram (wethreeblog or my personal account, carriebacker). And if you haven't read the books, let this blog post be magical sign that you need to this fall. If for nothing else, the cure for your sleepless night will be right on your bookshelf.

*Direct quotation from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. 
**For any of you really big Harry Potter fans there is an interesting podcast I've listened to once or twice while working out called Harry Potter and the Sacred Text. The authors basically read the text through a religious lens. I know, I know....a little weird. But when you think about it, there are some very big parallels to the Christian faith in the books (right off the bat, Lily Potter dying to save her son comes to mind). If nothing else, it's interesting food for thought.

(top photo via amazon.com)

Friday, October 5, 2018

October!

Well, since neither of my sisters acknowledged the fact that it is now October I feel the need to do so.  Does everyone, everywhere love October?  I love hopping on Facebook on the first day of October because so many of my friends share their joy for this month.  

I'm sure we've all seen this popular quote floating around


And it's so true!  October is, in my humble opinion, one of the best months there is.  The weather starts to turn cooler, the mornings get darker.  There are pumpkins, warm drinks and fuzzy socks; apples, candles, and gorgeous sunsets.




  In the past I have associated the fall with change - not only did the leaves start to turn and fall but for a few years in a row we packed up our things and moved during the fall months.  Now that we have settled into our little routine, fall signifies a super busy season for us. School and soccer and all the things.  But, as the weather cools down, I start to get excited for a slower season.  I'm looking forward to going to the pumpkin patch, baking pies for Thanksgiving, shopping for all of my family as December approaches.  I'm excited to soak in all of the things that the upcoming season has to offer.  

I find myself getting wrapped up in the busy quite often.  This week alone felt incredibly hard; like I just couldn't get ahead of the game.  I bought all the ingredients to make soup on Sunday and now it's Friday and guess what...no soup.  This weekend feels like a good time to commit to getting a handle on the busy.  Find a way to slow down and find the special in the ordinary moments.  

Happy October, friends!
What are your plans for the first weekend of the month?
If you're in the Easton, PA area you might want to check out Garlic Fest 2018!

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

lordy lordy...

...Will turned 40!

For his birthday weekend, my parents came down to take care of the kids (THANK YOU SO MUCH MOM AND DAD!!!) so we could spend a few days away together. We had so much fun! And for once, we didn't come back feeling like we needed a vacation from our vacation. High five! Here are some photos, if you'd like to see.


We stayed at the beautiful Asheville Cottages in Asheville, NC. We rented a different cottage at this same place two years ago and loved it so much we decided to go back! The cottages have so many great features, but our favorite is the heated bathroom floors. Will said that for our 15th wedding anniversary (next summer!!), our present to ourselves is going to be putting heat under our freezing-all-winter tile floors in our bathroom. You better believe I'm going to hold him to that. Game. Changer.





 We arrived in Asheville late on Thursday night and decided to spend two of our three days out on a few of the amazing hiking trails surrounding the city. Pisgah Forest and Dupont State Park are both close by and offer lots of great hikes for all levels and abilities. Our first stop on Friday after breakfast at Biscuit Head - a great little restaurant not far from the cottages - was a walk down memory lane at the Carl Sandburg House. Will, Tommy and I used to hike the trails around the house and stop to visit Mrs. Sandburg's goats when we lived in Hendersonville ten years ago. Last weekend, Will and I hiked up to the summit of Big Glassy Mountain and then stopped to say hi to the goats.
Tiny Tommy and Mrs. Sandburg's goats circa 2008.







 On Saturday we drove a little ways down the Blue Ridge Parkway to hop on the Art Loeb Trail and hike up Black Balsam Knob and then over to Tennent Mountain. It was a completely beautiful day and since the trail was up over 6000' the temperature was a perfect 63 degrees. After a short walk through a pine forest, the trail heads up above tree line and the views are spectacular, as you can see above. In that last photo, you can see the top of Looking Glass Rock in the distance. 


Here's a better view of Looking Glass. It's absolutely amazing. 



On Sunday, Will's birthday, we spent the entire day doing pretty much nothing. We watched football, sat in front of the fire, read our books, I did some knitting and we walked through the bathroom on those blissfully heated floors as many times as we could. It was fantastic. 



We had such a great long weekend and are looking forward to another trip to Asheville with the kids in the (hopefully!) not-so-distant future. I love this man more and more with each passing year and am so glad we got to spend this time together. Happy Birthday, Will!