More Than Food?

It’s no secret that food is a big part of our lives. Not only do we love to eat, but we also love going to new places – whether it be a little hole-in-the-wall we’ve been dying to try or a fancy restaurant that we have to save up for – and one of our favorite pastimes is cooking or baking together. We love grocery shopping together, meal planning, taking food to friends, and baking for our neighbors. It’s just a big part of who we are and there’s something so special about our time in the kitchen together – both gathered around the table lost in conversation and stirring or flipping or sifting or mixing, up to our elbows in ingredients.

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Natalie Broulette is a writer, wife, and mom. She lives in Savannah, Georgia, with her husband, two kids, and dog. Her first children’s book More Than Food? is about two of her favorite things: food, and her little boy. In More Than Food?, a young boy questions how much his mother loves him, and she expresses her feelings through strawberries, potatoes, ice cream, chicken tikka masala, coconut cake, and more. A picture book full of charming illustrations and playful rhymes, More Than Food? explores the joy of food and language through the imagination of a child.

I love the darling story this book tells and the references to foods that Landon loves, like strawberries, ice cream cones, spaghetti with meatballs, and pancakes. The illustrations are adorable and as I read through, I always ask him to point out different items, which makes it so interactive and fun. This book is relatable and just flat out precious. It is sure to become one of the most reached for stories in your home and can be passed down for generations to come.

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You can find her darling tote bags here (she so thoughtfully sent me the “I love you more than coffee” tote, which couldn’t be more fitting).

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This book has quickly become a favorite in our household and Landon asks me to read it to him just about every day. He won’t reach up for me with his “bink” (favorite blanket) in one hand and a book in the other forever, so each and every time he does, I stop what I’m doing (if at all possible) and read my sweet boy a story. I hope he grows to love books as much as I do. Just as author Janette Oke (one of my grandmother’s favorites) writes in Love Comes Softly (which was later turned into a wonderful Hallmark movie), “When you read, you can have every adventure. In the pages of a book you can be anyone you ever dreamed of being… They can never tell you you’re too young to slay the dragon — because it all happens right here, where it’s safe.”

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Thanks so much to Natalie Broulette for the book and tote bag featured in this post. As always, all opinions are my own.

Christmas Traditions

Today, I thought it would be fun to share some of the little things we do each year to make Christmas an extra special time in our home. There is so much hustle and bustle around the holidays, but I think oftentimes the little moments are the things our children look back on and remember most fondly.

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Sure, there are special, bigger things we do sometimes that we won’t do every year (like last year, we went to The Polar Express train ride at the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer, NC) that are fun and memorable, but I truly believe that it’s the smaller, seemingly insignificant things that shape a child’s love for Christmastime and value of traditions.

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Pick out our Christmas tree the weekend after Thanksgiving in the mountains – you can read more about this tradition here, but this is really the event that kicks off the Christmas season in our home.

Go see Santa – this one can be tricky with little kids, because I feel like long lines and overstimulated children is just a disaster waiting to happen, but if you can find a special place to go see Santa that’s calmer and where more individual attention is given to each child, it makes this tradition so much more special.

Make Christmas cookies – my Mama usually makes her homemade sugar cookie dough and it’s so fun rolling out the dough, dusting the cookie cutters with flour, and sprinkling the tops with colored sugar.

Go on a little drive (almost) every night after supper to look at Christmas lights – we live about a mile from Christmastown USA (McAdenville, NC) so there’s no shortage of lights where we live. It’s so fun to just hop in the truck, oftentimes in our pajamas, and look at lights each night.

Make homemade fudge – this tradition goes way back and is a something I used to look so forward to doing with my grandmother each Christmas. I can still hear her say, “get ready, Punkindoodle, tomorrow we’re gonna make us some candy!”

Deliver doughnuts to friends on Christmas Eve Eve – this is a special tradition from Grayson’s childhood that we adopted the first year after we got married and have since loved sharing with Landon.

Watch Christmas moviesThe Grinch, It’s a Wonderful Life, The Santa Clause, Elf, Home Alone, Christmas Vacation, and A Christmas Story are just a few of our family’s favorites.

Read Christmas books – Obviously, the real Christmas story found in Luke 2 is the most special, but we have several illustrated children’s books that are also beloved in our home year after year.

Make Christmas crafts or homemade ornamentsthis post shows the ornaments we made last year, but this can be as simple as breaking out the Christmas coloring books.

Sing lots of Christmas carols – anytime we’re in the car from Thanksgiving until Christmas, it’s pretty much a given that the only thing we listen to is Christmas music and I usually have Christmas pandora playing while I cook dinner, fold clothes, or play with the kids. It just adds so much joy and it’s important to me that they know and love the Christmas songs from my childhood (and from my Mama’s childhood, too).

The Giving Manger – this is a new tradition this year (see this post for more information) but it’s already been a highlight of our entire year and I can’t wait to see how much more fun it gets as Landon and Harper get older.

Go to church on Christmas Eve – this is extra special to me and something I have looked forward to every year since I was a little girl. There are a thousand places you can be with your family the night before Christmas, but making the choice to go to church and hear the Christmas story and sing “Silent Night, Holy Night” with candles flickering all around is sacred.

I’d love to hear some of your family’s Christmas traditions so comment below and tell me what helps get you in the Christmas Spirit!

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You can find Landon’s outfit here and Harper’s dress here. These matching Christmas outfits are so soft and sweet, and the quality is just amazing. Eyelet & Ivy has beautiful children’s clothing all year long, but this year’s Christmas collection is really special.

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Thanks so much to Eyelet & Ivy for the matching Christmas outfits featured in this post. As always, all opinions are my own.

 

 

Mikarose

It can be so hard to find modest, beautiful dresses that are not only good quality but great prices, as well. Mikarose dresses are all that and more, and there’s a dress for every occasion!

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The dress I’m wearing here, the Lydia dress, has beautiful boho lace detail on the sleeves and hem and I love that it just slips right on with no buttons or zippers. It runs a bit small, so if you’re in between sizes, I’d definitely size up one. I love the timeless black, but it also comes in a pretty muted blue color. I love how it’s dressed down a bit with a hat and booties on the website, but can also be taken to a whole new level with pumps and pearls.

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A few other styles I love from Mikarose:

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Mikarose is offering a 20% discount for ya’ll with code “COFFEEDATEWITHKATE” now through January 31st, 2019. 

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Thanks so much to Mikarose for the dress featured in this post. As always, all opinions are my own.

Christmas Card Inspiration with Smocked by StellyBelly

You’d never know that the day we took these photos, we had to wake both babies up from their (much needed) naps and they were very, very fussy. My friend Meredith works her magic year after year and captures my family in a special way that only she can, and I’m forever grateful.

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This year, I’m sharing our Christmas card photos a little earlier than usual because I’ve teamed up with Smocked by StellyBelly to share a little family photo inspiration! I’ve loved StellyBelly clothing for many, many years, so it’s a joy to feature a few pieces from this year’s Christmas collection on our Christmas cards!

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StellyBelly was founded in 2012 and their goal is to “dress children in classic children’s clothing with playful charm, at an affordable price,” which is pretty much my goal in life, too. Ya’ll know I love traditional baby clothes, and StellyBelly’s selection and prices are just right.

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Other favorites from this year’s Christmas collection that would be perfect for your little ones this season:

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Thank you so much to StellyBelly for providing the matching outfits that are featured in this post and to M.Lanier Photography for the photos. As always, all opinions are my own.

Thanksgiving Week Festivities

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving! We always eat lunch with Grayson’s family at his parent’s house in Hickory and then have dinner with my family in the mountains, so needless to say, we are always very, very full. The older I get, the more I love the traditional Thanksgiving meal (and the more thankful I am that I didn’t marry into a family that runs a 5k on Thanksgiving haha).

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We have turkey, ham, sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes, green beans, broccoli casserole, congealed salad, slaw, rolls, creamed corn, and all kinds of desserts. I miss my grandparents all the time, but around the holidays, sometimes it just feels unbearable. Have you ever missed someone so much that it physically hurts? It’s been eight years since my Paw went to be with Jesus and four years since my Baba, and time hasn’t eased the ache at all.

I know so many people who have lost loved ones this year and this was their first Thanksgiving and will be their first Christmas without them and my heart breaks for them. Holidays can be so hard, because while we have so, so much to be thankful for, we can’t help but miss those who aren’t with us anymore.

My family celebrates Thanksgiving in my grandparent’s house, which is nestled in the mountains and is just kind of frozen in time. It almost feels like they’re still there. We fill their house with laughter and babies and sink baths and messes and board games and conversations over coffee and pie because that’s exactly what they’d want.

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We picked out our Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving at Elk River Evergreens (this post from last year tells all about it) and it was freezing. I think Harper was the warmest person there, all bundled up in her snowman suit, but the rest of us just about froze to death. The wind was whipping around and it was just bone chilling cold, but another sweet memory, nonetheless.

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We went to visit Santa and Landon ran right up and jumped on his lap, as usual. That boy isn’t afraid of anything, Lord help us! He asked Santa for a play kitchen, because he loves playing with the one in his Sunday School class at church and at my grandparent’s house. It was Harper’s first time sitting on Santa’s lap and she didn’t cry but wasn’t quite sure what to think. He’s the best Santa ever and after asking each child what they want for Christmas, always makes sure to tell them that Jesus is the reason we celebrate Christmas and it’s just so personal and special.

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Landon went to the App vs. Troy game with his Daddy and Papa on Saturday and had a blast, of course. That boy loves football! He yells “GO APP!” and “TOUCHDOWN!” and it’s just about the cutest thing ever. He’s looking so grown up these days!

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On Sunday, Grayson had the honor of singing with the Holiday Singers at Halton Theater for the 7th annual Christmas Extravaganza with the Charlotte Civic Orchestra and combined Butler and South Mecklenburg High School choirs, Charlotte City Ballet, and Encore Dancers. It was such an amazing production and I enjoyed it so much! It really helped get us all in the Christmas spirit!

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Hope you guys have a great week! We have to put up our tree one night this week, I have my Bible Study Christmas party, and we’re going to a parade! So much to look forward to this time of year!

A Thanksgiving Confession: When Brokenness & Unspeakable Joy Coexist

Can I be completely honest for a minute? Thanksgiving is a hard one for me. On one hand, death and broken relationships have stolen from my babies what are some of the most cherished parts of my own childhood and my tradition-loving heart aches for what they’ll never know. On the other hand, I am unspeakably grateful for the new traditions we’re building with them and for the relationships I’ve seen restored.

Jesus has been speaking and stirring gently in my heart this year that brokenness and unspeakable joy can coexist.

It’s okay to hurt for what should have been or what could have been or what used to be. It’s okay to think of the Thanksgiving from my childhood spent running around my great aunt’s farm with my cousins and chopping slaw with my grandma and picking out our Christmas tree in my great uncle’s tree patch and both mourn the loss of those times and joyfully remember those memories that truly shaped my life.

The question then becomes, what do I do with these conflicted emotions? And, I share all this because I know that I’m not the only one who struggles with this.

What I’m learning – and trust me, Jesus is still doing a big work in my heart here – is that you have to:

  • embrace the season you’re in now
  • be thankful for the sweet seasons that have passed
  • learn from the hard seasons
  • look forward to the seasons that will come, because change is inevitable

Romans 8:18 promises us that joy is coming. And it is. What’s broken now may be restored, and we hold on to that hope because we serve a God of restoration. But we also have to remember that there’s a time for everything and His perfect plan and purpose will prevail.

I’ve spent a lot of time with this tear-stained passage in my Bible (Ecclesiastes 3:1-11):

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

What do workers gain from their toil?I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race.He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

I don’t have all the answers, but I encourage you today friends, if you too feel the game of tug-of-war in your heart between complete gratitude and deep sorrow, let’s choose joy today. The One who holds your heart cares about every detail and is working on your behalf in ways that you can’t even yet comprehend.

Happy Thanksgiving, from my family to yours!

NeeSee’s Dresses

What I love most about NeeSee’s Dresses is the huge selection of modest, beautiful clothing that they offer. It took me a long time to choose one for this post, and I have a long list of items I would love to add to my closet. NeeSee’s offers a wide selection of nursing friendly dresses, as well, which I love.

This emerald green maxi dress is so soft, has pockets, and is a wonderful thick, quality fabric that’s not clingy or see-through. Because I’m 5’2″, it is quite long on me, so having it hemmed a few inches wouldn’t hurt. This style maxi (the “Mallory”) is available in several other beautiful colors as well and they just released a new maxi style called the “Danni” that’s five inches shorter, eliminating the need for hemming!

They are having a HUGE Black Friday Sale that you don’t want to miss (details here). They are one of the few brands that I wouldn’t think twice about getting a surprise grab bag from, because I literally love just about every single item they offer!

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Thanks so much to NeeSee’s Dresses for providing the dress featured in this post. As always, all opinions are my own. 

Edna & Milly Boutique

Sometimes it can be so fun to step outside of your comfort zone and wear something a little different. Just like it can be so fun to wear your hair in a new style or order something you’ve never had before at a coffee shop, sometimes ya just need to change it up a little. When shopping with Edna & Milly Boutique, there’s something for every occasion and the prices are just right. And the best part? They’re local (right here in Mount Holly, North Carolina)!

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Edna & Milly Boutique is named after the owner, Kayla’s great grandmothers, Edna and Mildred. She says, “They are no longer with me, but so close to my heart and I wanted a way to honor them. I honestly had a  tough time finding a name for the boutique, I prayed and prayed and prayed 200 more times until one Sunday morning our pastor asked “What is weighing on your heart most right now? What is something that you have been struggling to find answers to?” and instantly – those two precious ladies crossed my mind and I knew! I couldn’t have thought of a more unique names if I tried – I am so proud to have their love intertwined with my business.”

The dress I’m wearing here, the Layla Dress, is so versatile and can be paired with any top you choose (it does not come with the blush colored top shown on the website, just FYI). It looks great with solids or patterns underneath and if it’s chilly, you can pair it with tights like I tend to do in the winter months (although the length is perfectly long enough that I don’t need tights except for temperature control). I love the vintage feel of this jumper style dress and the fact that it has pockets and a ruffled hem makes it even better!

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Other items I love from Edna & Milly Boutique:

Free shipping on all orders of $40 or more (or local pickup)! And another thing I love about Edna & Milly boutique, there is always 25% off for those who serve our country (details here). And until December 1st, you can use the code “COFFEEDATE” for 10% off your entire order!

If you’re local, you can shop with Edna & Milly Boutique in person (and knock out the rest of your Christmas shopping!) at a few upcoming events:

  • Cramerton Christmas Bazaar – December 1st from 10am-2pm – 8 Julian Street, Cramerton, NC 28032
  • Pure Bliss Sip+Shop – December 2nd from 1pm-5pm – 168 Highway 274 #147, Lake Wylie, SC 29710
  • Cork & Crate Sip+Shop – December 5th from 6:30pm-9:30pm – 2413 Central Ave, Charlotte, NC 28205

 

Thanks so much to Kayla from Edna & Milly Boutique for providing the dress featured in this post. As always, all opinions are my own. Thanks also to my favorite photographer, Meredith Fields, for snapping these photos. Check out more of her work here!

Kari Berry Posh Sweater

I could have never anticipated loving this cardigan as much as I do. It’s far better than I could have hoped, and the material is quite possibly the softest, most amazing quality of any I own. It is a beautiful heather grey and will go with so many different outfits (although all black underneath will probably always be my go-to) and ya’ll… it has pockets! It is very oversized, so be sure to size down. I ordered a M/L and could have easily gone with a S/M.

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If you aren’t familiar with Kari Berry Posh, they offer beautiful clothes for women and also for little girls. There’s even a small selection of Mommy + Me dresses (which I can hardly wait to do with my Harper girl). I love this beautiful royal blue maxi dress, this red bell sleeve dress, and this sweet floral top that I think would probably work well for maternity, too.

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Kari Berry Posh got started about a year ago and the owner, Kari, said that she started the boutique because she always had a hard time finding comfortable, stylish clothes. One thing she said that really resonated with me is, “as a mother of three and always on the go, comfort is very important to me. I wanted to find clothes that were comfortable enough to be at home in but cute enough to run errands in.”

As a mom, who can’t relate to that?! Kari has been so sweet to offer my readers 20% off through the end of November with code KATE20. So, be sure to take advantage!

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Thanks so much to Kari from Kari Berry Posh for providing the sweater featured in this post. As always, all opinions are my own.

My Mama’s Chocolate Buttercream

This is my Mama’s recipe so you know it has to be delicious. Becky doesn’t fool around in the kitchen. I’ve made it more times than I can count, and it’s really the definition of an “old faithful.” She always puts this rich, creamy buttercream on her brownies and they’re truly the best thing you’ve ever put in your mouth and such a treat with an ice cold glass of milk!

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The first few times you make this, you’ll think it isn’t going to turn out right, but then at the last minute, it comes together and you eventually just get the hang of it. Each time you make it, you’ll become more and more confident in the consistency.

Ingredients:

  • One bag of powdered sugar
  • Two tablespoons of cocoa powder
  • One stick softened butter
  • A couple splashes of milk (as needed for consistency)

Instructions:

  • In your stand mixer bowl, whisk together powdered sugar and cocoa powder.
  • Then, with your mixer on its lowest setting, incorporate the softened butter (be careful or powdered sugar will go everywhere!).
  • Let it mix for a few minutes and watch the consistency.
  • Add a splash or two of milk (but not too much, or it will be soupy).
  • Frost anything you’d like – brownies, cake, cupcakes, etc. YUM!