Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
1 Corinthians 3:17

Monday, February 29, 2016

Destin, Florida - Part One

 impromptu family portrait on the front porch- I feel like a giant but I think it's because I had to sit on the edge of the seat and Bill was leaning back...maybe... ?

 with Mimi & Grampy, my parents

 cartwheels and handstands by the shore. all day every day.

 my oldest son, soon to be big brother to another little one. my heart cannot even take it

 not a super photo of the dolphins, but it was such a fun afternoon out on the water watching them frolic

 little miss captain- she's pretty shy so we were surprised she wanted to go up front and take the wheel. she loved it!

preview of my maternity photo shoot - I never had nice photographs taken when I was pregnant with my other boys and I desperately wanted a few "pretty pictures" to treasure from this special time

We got home Saturday after spending ten glorious days in the Florida sunshine, and while the trip back wasn't exactly the smoothest, it was such a wonderful time away. It was such a joy not having to deal with snow and boots/shoes- my trusty flip flops took me everywhere I wanted to go, and I was a walking machine down there! I didn't even know that I could walk that much because at home, I feel kind of stuck inside most of the time, which doesn't make a swollen-footed pregnant gal feel all that fit. It was absolutely fabulous!

These are all pics from my Nikon- I'll upload the phone pics soon because there are some fun ones on there. The last one is from a little photo shoot we did. I had ordered the dress online specifically for this and wasn't sure I even liked it when it arrived in the mail, but it ended up being one of my favorites. I'll share the rest of the maternity photos in another post. A fun tidbit: tomorrow I can say that I'm having a baby next month. (!!!!!!!)

Friday, February 12, 2016

Friday Favorites

I am so glad it's Friday! It's been a whirlwind of a week with one wisdom teeth surgery recovery, one soccer state championship ring ceremony, lessons, gymnastics, Civil Air Patrol duties, the usual cooking and cleaning...and then the nesting that's hitting full force!!, working on a baby registry- squeal!!!, and it's Valentine's Day this weekend!

Here are some of my favorites lately:

 the ever-growing bump. honestly, some days are harder than others, but i do not want to take any of it for granted. we are healthy and well...and down to 7 1/2 weeks!!!

waiting around at someone's lesson/sporting event/school thing, just feeling so grateful for this baby


 a burst of sewing energy this month- couldn't resist this rainbow heart fabric even if i tried, which i didn't, ha!

 little miss had a little bedhead this morning sporting her new valentine's day shirt #allthehearteyes
 i'll be sharing some tutorials soon for some other sewing things on my sewing blog, rose & ruffle

 this little chef set tutorial is already posted here

 love is in the air...smitten with these cozy flannel nightgowns in the shop. only a few left!


pink tulips make everything in the world right


this weekend is all about the heart food...

 (we slice this for our valentine's meatball good!)

 ...and treats...

 ...and chocolate and strawberries...

...and special little dates with my little and-not-so-little loves!
(we had been sledding here, that explains the hair and red faces a bit, right? ha ha)


packing for our upcoming trip to florida! flip flops here i come! i'd wear them here (in nh) but the snow and ice make it just a tad dicey

 isabelle's super helpful list for our trip to d.c. last spring makes me smile

travel snack prep will be's a long haul but will be so worth it! 

There you have it, all my favorites lately. Hope your weekend is a happy and bright one. For more Friday Favorites, check out Erika's blog, Narci's blog, and Andrea's blog; and for Five on Friday, visit April's blog.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Triple Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies

It's been a long time since I've shared a recipe! For you chocolate lovers, these cookies fit the bill perfectly. They're a cinch to make and will leave your chocolate-loving heart so, so happy. Promise! This dough is a little different and is made in a saucepan on the stove top instead of using a mixer.

Here's What You Need

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (or a combination of semi and dark), divided
1/3 cup butter, cut into pieces
1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 egg
splash vanilla extract
2/3 cup hazelnuts (walnuts are fine, too)
1 3/4 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda

Here's What You Do
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small mixing bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder and soda; set aside

Pour 1 cup chocolate chips into heavy-duty saucepan on low heat; add butter, stirring until melted and smooth. (About 5 minutes) Remove from heat and add sweetened condensed milk, egg and vanilla extract, stirring together until smooth. Carefully add the flour mixture, stirring together again. The cookie dough will be thick, don't over-beat.

Add remaining chocolate chips and hazelnuts; stir gently.

Normally I use a cookie scoop for the dough, but it won't work well with this recipe. Simply use a spoon to drop dough onto a parchment-paper lined/greased pan; bake for 8-10 minutes, taking care not to over-bake; centers will be puffy and soft. Let sit for a minute or two on the cookie sheet before transferring to cooling rack.

it was snowstorm central here, very dark, but the perfect day for quick and easy cookies!
this is about the size the dough should be- it doesn't need to be flattened prior to baking

The end result is a chewy, fudgy, brownie-like chocolate cookie with hints of hazelnut. Sometimes, nuts are necessary in a recipe for added moisture, to keep a cookie from becoming too dry, but if you prefer to omit nuts, I don't think it will be a problem here. Also, one of my boys is not a fan of hazelnuts and has asked that I use walnuts instead next time. It's all up to you and what you prefer. But make these! You will love them!

this recipe was adapted from my treasured
 Nestle Toll House Best-Ever Cookies Recipe Book
Here are some other favorite chocolate recipes:

linking up with:

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Planning (and Dreaming)

The sun is making its appearance earlier and earlier, and I'm loving it. Since we've never been here through the seasons before, everyday feels like a happy little discovery. This morning, I've got sunlight streaming through the windows onto the fireplace, and that's definitely a first!

I don't think I mentioned this before, but last year my parents asked us to find them a nice house to rent in Florida for the whole month of February (one that would fit additional family, too). I didn't think it would be too much of a challenge, since we've always found great homes from VRBO and such, but it was! It took months and months of narrowing down our search, and fiiiinally we found a gem. My Mom and Dad are there already, and they love the house and the town, which is a huge relief to me. I'm so excited because we'll be heading down shortly! Our last few "vacations" have really stunk, so I admit I'm a little trigger shy, but we decided to go for it and I cannot wait! The thought of slipping into beloved flip flops and heading to the beach rather than the aerobics I go through every time I need to put on socks and boots up, yes please! I'm also a little nervous about the long drive down- about 24 hours straight- but we'll manage. Flying is just way too expensive for all of us.

Ah, it's Super Bowl day. How could I forget that exciting little nugget? The fact that the Patriots aren't playing releases me from any and every type of fake excitement I'm expected to muster up, ha. I really could not care less, but all my boys do, so I don't mind mustering up a little something for their sake. Not this year, I'm off the hook. ;)

One of the boys, I think it was Caleb, asked me what I would ask for if I could have anything. Hands down, a personal chef! I love to cook and bake and putter around the kitchen normally, but I am just wiped out. Right now I've got two pans of cinnamon rolls from a can baking for Sunday breakfast, and I'm calling that a culinary success. My husband is a great and inventive cook, and he frequently picks up the slack, and I'm very thankful. Or he feels bad for me and my big-as-a-watermelon status and asks what he can get us for take-out, just the two of us, and then we sneak upstairs like naughty school children and joyously eat it all by ourselves. It's really quite fun!

Over the last couple of weeks, I've sewn up some cute baby things, and some pretty things for my pretty girl. She definitely has her opinion of what dear old Mom can and should make for her, and now I know what not to waste my time with. But she loves skirts- long and shorter- and "older girl" dress styles. No more apron dresses, which I've been informed are for babies. Boo. Here we are at church wearing our handmade skirts. Hers is so cute! Mine is old, pre-pregnancy, and I'm relieved I can maybe get away with it because my options, unlike my belly, are getting rather slim.

Everyone who knows me well knows about my obsessive list-making. It can be both a blessing and a curse. With a new house, new baby, upcoming trip, and a bunch of other things going on, there's just so much to plan for. Lists save my life! Sometimes a girl just needs good old pen and paper to jot ideas down on. Am I right?

And I'm trying to remember to carve out a little time to do something nice for myself each week. I used to soak my feet, do a face mask, or paint my nails every Sunday night, but then that routine sort of faded away with all the other demands on my time. Well I'm taking it back! This was last week's...I think I'm going pink this week. Exciting times, for sure.  =)

Today we celebrated my father-in-laws birthday. It's always nice to catch up with family, and of course to spend time with my adorable nieces. I'm so glad Isabelle gets to grow up with them- I never had cousins close in age to me, and now we've got great relationships, but it wasn't like having extended siblings growing up. I foresee some little girl sleep-overs this summer and I can't wait!

Oh, I totally forgot! I wrote up a tutorial for a little apron, pot holder and place mat set on the sewing blog. You can read it HERE if you'd like.

We're supposedly getting another storm tomorrow morning, so who knows if there will be school. Friday was an unexpected snow day, too. That's okay, just means more time for pancakes.  =)

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Updates and Such

I feel like I haven't kept great track of all our happenings lately, so this is going to be one big smorgasbord of our life recently. I know one day I'll want to look back and remember it all.

Shortly after Christmas, I posted this on instagram- all the the sweet things we've gotten or been given for baby boy. I admit I went a little nuts on ebay...and maaaaaybe a few other online boutique stores after we learned we were expecting a him and not a her. This will be my last baby boy forever and he will be the best dressed boy on the planet.

At 28 weeks, I officially made it to the THIRD TRIMESTER! Still battling morning sickness a bit, but what can you do? I'm trying to savor it all regardless.
Side view. Large, in charge, quite the barge. Sigh.

Someone's just a tad excited about all this. She won't be my baby anymore.

Just yesterday, nesting mode hit me FULL-ON so this drawer doesn't look like this today. I washed all the light-colored clothes and blankets and burp cloths, and swooned over each single thing as I folded it back up. Smells so good! I can't believe in two months there will be a baby inside these clothes!

Wow, those blue eyes! Each of the boys has different colored eyes- Ethan's are grey-blue, Jonah's are pure hazel with flecks of gold, and Caleb's are dreamy bright blues. I wonder what this guy's eyes will be like! This was actually a horrific day- our beloved Odyssey had been spending too much time in the garage, and costing us too much money, so we made the decision to trade her in. It was really tough because we don't want to get caught up in the idea of "bigger and better," and we wanted to keep our van until the very end. Well I guess the very end came sooner than we'd hoped.

Also, an hour before this photo, I'd been strapped up to monitors at the doctor's office because it had been so long since I'd felt movement. So scary! Hot tears just poured down my cheeks as the nurse tried to find a heartbeat, and finally, she did. I just bawled and bawled in sheer relief, and everyone in the office was so sweet. They had me stay a while after hooking me up to some other monitor, just to be sure. Everything looked perfect. Of course he chose that very moment to resume his usual Olympic movements.

And then, Bill informed me that a co-worker's daughter had lost her four-year long battle with cancer the evening before. She was nineteen years old, their only child. I can't imagine their grief. Needless to say, this was the most emotional car-buying experience of my life.

He's going to be so mad at me for posting these! But hey, when you play with Mom's phone, that's the risk you take, ha. Oldest and youngest...for now. These two have such a special relationship. I love it!

Sunday best.

Jonah had an eye appointment before school, so of course we just had to eat breakfast out. Isn't that what early morning appointments are code for? Excuse my major hat head.

I've been a sewing fanatic these days. Here's Isabelle sporting one of her new fleece hats. So cute!

30 weeks!!!

I'm 31 weeks now, and I'm feeling it. I keep falling asleep on the couch, or in the middle of doing something, I get so exhausted I have to go lay down. The worst is only being able to run errands at one store at a time. I can't handle multiple destinations anymore. And groceries are the worst! I need a nap after making it through shopping and then having to put all the stuff away. Not much longer now, though... eek!

I have a different instagram if you want to follow along there- I post some of these snippets and lots of other things that don't seem to make it to the blog. My username is bethanylivs_life
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