Pool Day with Cousins, 2017 by Brooke Courtney

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With summer coming to an end, it was time for the annual "cousin's day" at our local community pool. I believe the tradition started a few years ago, when my Mom would invite her grand-nieces and nephews to come swimming with her and my Dad for the day. In the last two years, since both my brother and I have had kids, it's morphed into "any family in the area pool day."

I've been trying really hard to take my camera with me more places, and I'm so glad I threw it in June's backpack for this years pool day. The weather was beautiful and I captured some family moments that would have otherwise gone undocumented. I'm sure my cousins, who were falling flat on their faces off the diving board, wish "undocumented" was the case. 

I'm not sure who started the "follow the leader off the diving board" game this year, but it was funnier than ever. Although once my brother got involved, everyone was very hesitate to do his tricks. No worries guys, I remember feeling the same way on the trampoline with him as a kid, and I was even a tumbler/cheerleader!

June and Pearl (her cousin, 10 months younger than her in age) had the time of their lives going up and down, and up and down, and up and down the ramp into the big pool. All while us adults kept saying "Slow down!" "Don't jump! It's slippery!" "Stop running!" You'd think June would have learned her lesson after falling and going under completely... but no.

Again, I'm so glad that I took my camera along for this day. May it be a lesson to me to just take it, even when I don't feel like it!

And might I add that Pearl is totally peeing in this picture below, and I love it with my whole heart. 😂

A Bathtub Isn't Big Enough For An Orca by Brooke Courtney

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This post was sponsored by Munchkin to raise awareness for Project Orca. As always, all opinions are my own.

To be honest, I don't think I could count on two hands the amount of Munchkin products we have in our house! Wipe warmer, cups, baby gates, utensils, training potty, snack grabbers, car gadgets, and endless bath toys... just to name a few. Their products are always affordable, well designed, usually in stock at Target (which, let's be real, is the main place I go) and seem to be made for real families like ours. I love that.

Which is why when Munchkin asked me to create a post about their involvement with Project Orca, I was honored to do so. After 10 years of making an orca toy, Munchkin decided to put their principles before their profits and have removed the top-selling toy from their sea squirt lineup. As a response to the harmful practice of keeping orcas in captivity, a practice still in effect today, they have decided to kick-start a donation of $1,000,000 to develop the first sea side orca sanctuary in the United States via Project Orca!

(How cute is this little t-shirt they sent us!?!)

June loves animals, like most 2.5 year olds do, and was so excited to wear her whale shirt the other day while we played with her bubble machine on our driveway. I told her about Orcas and how they live in the ocean, and now I'm pretty sure she thinks we're going to see one this coming week while on vacation in New Jersey. 😂 Sorry Junie.

(Also, note June trying to pick up the bubble machine below. Ha ha ha ha ha!)

While I'm not an over the top "no animal should ever be in captivity" activist, it does sadden me that there are still so many Orca's held in captivity in the U.S. and world wide. Several years ago, T.J. and I watched the Blackfish documentary on Netflix (based on Tilikum, the Orca who killed his trainer) and it freaked us out... like for days. And for good reason. (If you haven't watched it, you should!) It was so sad to see how these incredibly smart creatures try to cope with living in tanks, separate from their families.

If you'd like to help support Munchkin's efforts, you can get a t-shirt for yourself, or read more about their campaign at The Whale Sanctuary Project.

And for those of you who I know will ask, the bubble machine is from Target and worth every penny of the $10.99 price tag. 😂 😘

Bruschetta with Bacon + Basil by Brooke Courtney

Having been to about 237 weddings in my life, I have eaten my fair share of bruschetta. And quite happily, might I add! There's something about the summery fresh tomatoes on the little slices of bread that just makes my heart happy.

Last summer, having never made bruschetta before in my life, I blended up a few tomatoes from our garden, tossed in some minced onion (which apparently is not part of the real recipes 😂), added a little bacon leftover from breakfast, and served it to T.J. and I on leftover french bread from Target. And oh. my. word. I think we ate it approximately a 48 times last year.

The recipe is quite simple, and you can alter it a few different ways to fit your style and what's already in your refrigerator, cause let's be real that's the majority of my method when it comes to cooking ---- let's see... I have eggs, half a yam, BBQ sauce and leftover rice... what can I do... 😂

BRUSCHETTA WITH BACON + BASIL

  • Two large handfuls of cherry/grape tomatoes (or 2 medium sized tomatoes)
  • 1 tbsp finely diced red onion
  • Fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 3-4 sliced bacon, cooked and chopped
  • Salt to taste (if not using bacon)
  • Olive oil
  • Baguette or small sized french bread (I usually get this bread from Target)
  • Balsamic glaze (like this stuff)

*Note: I don't really measure anything when I make this recipe. I base it off of how much bread I have left to work with, or how many tomatoes I have ripe from the garden. You can make as much or little as you'd like, don't over think it!

 

DIRECTIONS

Slice your baguette into thin slices. I did 18-20 slices for this recipe. Brush both sides of the bread with olive oil and lay them out on a cookie sheet. Bake or broil on LOW until lightly toasted on both sides! Mmmmmmm! While the bread gets toasty....

Roughly dice tomatoes by hand, or in a small food processor, and dump into your mixing bowl. Finely chop the red onion and basil and add to bowl. (Sometime's I'll put both the onion and basil into my food processor, and blend them together to save time!) Add chopped bacon. Add garlic. Drizzle mixture with a heavy hand of olive oil. Salt to taste only if you've omitted the bacon, otherwise the bacon is salty enough.

Once the bread has been toasted and is cool enough to pick up, top each slice of bread with a large spoonful of bruschetta! Try not to just eat it by the spoonful while you work. Lastly, top it all off with a drizzle of balsamic glaze.

If by chance you don't want to plate your bruschetta, but instead serve it like a dip of sorts, you can drizzle the bread with the glaze. Set the drizzled bread in a basket, and the bruschetta in a bowl with a spoon. Then people can serve themselves their own! Enjoyyyyyy!

If you decide to make some for yourself, remember to tag me in your Instagram, or Instagram Stories, @brookecourtney, so I can see it!

The 4th of July Celebration by Brooke Courtney

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I can honestly say that the 4th of July is my favorite holiday, second to Christmas. Growing up, it was a time that our family would get together and I'd get to see cousins who lived far away. We'd spend hours outside, eating picnic food, running through the sprinkler and playing with sparklers. (And the terrifying "not legal in PA" fireworks that my Uncle would bring up from North Carolina every year. 😂)

Two years ago, when June was five months old, we took her to the same parade I grew up going to, but nothing more. She was too little and it was too hot. Last year, we took her to the parade and she had the time. of. her. life. Which looking back makes a lot of sense, all of her favorite things were driving by one after another -- trucks, drums, horses, puppies, buses -- and they were throwing candy at her. After the parade we went into the park briefly, but didn't stay long, nor did I bring along my real camera. Which of course I regretted. Isn't it always that way!?!? Take it with you and you never use it. Leave it at home and you're like "THE LIGHT IS PERFECT. Myyy lifeeeeeee."

So this year I made sure to take my camera. And thank goodness I did, because I got one single image that proves June had a good time, despite being a hot mess the entire time. 😂 I don't blame her, it was SO hot out. And she just couldn't deal with it. #bless Below is said image.

In fact, it was so hot out that I forgot to take a single picture of all the awesome food we ate. We'd finish shoving something into our face and I'd be like "Noooooo! <licks fingers> I didn't take a photo!" So, please use your imagination for the following.

<insert photo of "Ham & Cheese Soft Pretzel Log">

<insert photo of "Fresh Lemonade & Bacon on a Stick>

<insert photo of June spitting out her soft pretzel realllll dramatic like>

<insert photo of "Burger from Lancaster Burger Co. w/ Fries>

<insert photo of me considering whether or not I could eat anything else, aka Fried Oreos>

My Dad, who has been a Children's & Family musician for almost 30 years, has been playing the Lititz Springs Park 4th of July Celebration since I can remember, which is partly why I have so many memories of spending the day in the park -- winning goldfish that would die later that week, and staining circles of color around my mouth from all the snow cones.

It's so fun to watch my Dad play now that both my brother and I have kids. June, and my niece Pearl, are always a little uncertain as to why my Dad, their "Norkey", is standing up there in front of everyone singing. It usually takes June awhile to warm up to the idea... but that's the story of her life, so nothing new there.

Everyone had fun at the show and danced their pants off. Honestly, it was so hot I wish I could have danced my pants off. Also, look at how little Baby Gray is in his stroller! (My nephew.)

This year was the first year in a long time that I didn't stay/come back for the fireworks. But, I'll tell ya, growing a baby is a lot of work and I was so tired by 8pm, I was out for the night. Have you ever taken your kids to fireworks? How old were they when you went for the first time? There is just no way in heck we could take June at least for a few more years. Maybe when she's finally ready I'll be done growing babies and we can have the energy to go together at 10pm. Ha!

All in all it was a great day and I'm glad I took my camera along to capture at least some of the memories we made. 🙂 Tell me, what's your favorite holiday?

Yard Work with Toro by Brooke Courtney

Well friends, you picked a good blog to read, because I have an announcement to make!

Drum roll please....

We. Did. Yard work.

Oh! And we're having another baby. That too. 😊 But I'll talk about that in another post. (Aka, newwww nursery!!!)

I'm honestly not sure which is more impressive -- the yard work or baby #2. 😂 Life has felt crazy lately. Between getting everything ready for the grand opening of SUPPLY, and barfing more than I'd ever like to, thanks due to Baby #2, our yard got wayyyy out of control. Ferns everywhere. Tree bark everywhere. Weeds, and dirt, and chaos. See photos for proof. Even Penny was like "🙀". #sorryneighbors #dontworrywetookcareofit

Enter Toro to save the day. 🙌🏽 I've partnered with Toro to show you their new Toro PowerPlex™ 40V Max* Lithium Ion Products -- and they're just as awesome as they sound.

T.J. was pummmped up about the new Brushless Blower. As you can see we have some really big trees on our street and he is the one to handle all 1.2 million leaves that fall from them come October. The blower worked great to clear away all of the bark, leaves and dirt.

I trimmed back all of our ferns because they'd just gotten too crazy, while T.J. used the String Trimmer to edge along all of our sidewalks. We'd never done this before, but it looks so nice afterwards!! What? Are we grown-ups or something!?!

The string trimmer also rotates from an edger to a trimmer, which was perfect for the madness happening in our garden and back lot.

It was really enjoyable working outside with T.J. on this project. 💕 We listened to Good Old War, talked about future business ideas, and went through an entire bottle of bug spray. Poor T.J., he's just too sweet -- he get's eaten alive. Thanks for taking one for the team, babe!

We decided to mulch everything, even though it's late in the season for it, and it turned out so nice. I used the Brushless Blower to clean off the sidewalks, driveway and front porch when it was all done. My favorite part is clicking the battery into place. I feel so cool every time I do it. 😂

After several hard days of work, I made our front porch look happy again to celebrate a fresh yard and summertime flavors -- 14 grain bread with The Peach Truck's Jam and lime/mint ice water.

Ahhh.... no more weeds. Now I'm off to daydream about a nursery for Baby #2.