Our 2017 Garden | Step 1: Buy Plants 🌱 by Brooke Courtney

First of all, it is only Tuesday evening and I already feel like it's been a long week. 😂 Most of that is due to the fact that June's had a rough couple of days. She just seems... off. Extra tender. Extra frustrated. Extra everything. Poor girl! Added with the fact that we'd planned to start potty training yesterday, and have since thrown that out the window entirely because she just cries and cries and says "Noooo please" when we ask her to try sitting on the potty, I am also feeling extra tender. Extra frustrated. Extra everything. Oi vey. 😂 That's just motherhood sometimes. I am learning to lean into it and be okay with tossing everything out the window and just enjoying what the day has for me instead. One of the ways I am able to do that is by taking my real camera along for the "every day things" June and I do together. It helps me focus on how beautiful the little things really are.

Today's plan: buy stuff for our garden. 😍 Last year we ripped up part of the parking area at the back of our yard that we never use and put in four raised gardening beds! You can see those before/progress photos here!

June and I only grabbed a few of the basics for our garden today, as I'm sure I'll go back several times yet to purchase more once I've begun to fill the beds and figure out the design.

I picked up some yellow and red cherry tomatoes, a few pepper plants, green beans and cucumbers. June picked up 18 containers of Golden Lemon Thyme and had to be convinced that we only need one. "Dat one" she'd say and point to all the pots we "needed for our cart". 

I kept trying to get June to smell the herbs, but she'd either get it too close to her face and get upset (I told you she's tender these days), or she'd rub the leaves with one hand but then sniff the other! Ha ha ha! Which reminds me of this kid from America's Funniest Home Videos who licks his one hand but then uses the other to turn the magazine page. 😂

It's been so beautiful in Manheim the last few days, so I was happy to let Junie wander around outside before we paid for our items. After all, there was a giant gravel area outside and how. can. you. not. play in it?

So, there you have it. Just a little bit of what my day looked like. I am really looking forward to planting everything we bought today and seeing how the entire garden turns out. I learned a lot last year about which areas get the best sun, what we wished we'd planted more of, and which flowers did well in the heat. I'll share more with ya'll when I've started planting!

Are you planting anything this year? I'd love to know!

Also, if you're local - check out The Flower Wagon in Manheim, PA. Crazy low prices on the best stuff!

7 Items You Should Thrift for Your Home by Brooke Courtney

If you've been around here for any amount of time, it should come as no surprise to you that I love to go thrifting. Finding amazing, unique items at second hand shops, for a fraction of their original price, is one of my favorite things to do. Digging through the bins and shelves is like a treasure hunt and I almost always walk away with something I didn't even know I needed. 😉

In recent years, I have also come to love that thrifting supports local businesses. T.J. and I are all about our small town of Manheim, PA. We shop at our local farmers market and hardware store, and have worked hard to intentionally keep our growing business (walk in love.) in Manheim. In addition to thrifting, I'd encourage to find ways to support your town -- hire a local guy to fix your front porch, switch to local insurance, or make an effort to attend the next community event that's taking place.

Okay, enough about my love for small business, back to thrifting! Sometimes it isn't much fun at all. Sometimes everything is gross and junky, and it can be really hard to know what to look for if you don't shop often enough to have a running inventory of your house/closet and know your style. For any of you who might feel this way, I've compiled a list of 7 Things You Should Thrift For Your Home if you're a thrifting-newbie, all while you work to figure out how thrifting fits into your lifestyle! (You can also check out my original post 10 Tips To Thrift, from a few years ago!)

1. BASKETS

You can't have enough of them. Well, at least not enough of the large ones. The bigger ones might be a little harder to find, but when you do, they're usually around $6. Which is a steal compared to the large storage baskets at Target or Home Goods for $35+!

Uses: toy storage, shoe storage, blanket storage, a planter for larger plants, a laundry basket.

2. BLANKETS

For all seasons, I find myself reaching into my linen closet, pulling out blanket after blanket, each different in texture, style and color, each adding personality and warmth to our home. Just last month I used one to make a fort for June and she played underneath it for hours! 

Uses: bedspread, picnic blanket, table cloth, fort, or even used as fabric to re-cover something.

3. CATCH-ALLS

I recently had to stop buying catch-all dishes because I'd get sucked into "how cute they" are every time, and realized I had no actual storage for my belongings, but instead just cute little dishes to throw everything into. 😹 I no longer have more than one catch-all dish in each room - the perfect about.

Uses: above your kitchen sink for coins and jewelry, next to your bed for earrings, bobby pins and spare change, or on your "landing table" (where the mail, etc goes) for keys, thumb drives and restaurant gift cards. Near washer/dryer.

4. GLASS JARS + CONTAINERS

There are two lovely things about glass jars/vases. First, how differently they can be used throughout each season. I have a bunch of glass jars/containers that I've used in our bathroom for years - holding everything from nail polish to our toothbrushes, which was a $10 or less project! My assorted mason jars have held flowers, lightening bugs, drinks, food, and more. Secondly, glass always feels light and timeless. I'd encourage you to gravitate towards clear class, without etching or hand painted designs, as it will work in all areas of your home much easier.

Uses: uhmmm, pretty much anything. My personal favorite is bathroom/vanity organization. It's just so pretty! (And easy to run through the dishwasher every few months to keep 'em sparkly clean.)

5. BOOKS

I read once that "a home without books is a body without soul." And while I'm not the most avid of readers, I do agree. They have a sense of home, belonging and history to them. The act as visual weight, a way to show your personality, and if nothing else, are a relatively cheap way to fill your bookshelf. You can group books in small piles on your nightstand to add height and visual interest, or pair everything down to only a few in your favorite colors. You can put them on your shelf forwards or backwards, wrap them in paper, or only purchases ones that have beautiful typography on the spines. You can set them on a floating shelf where they forward facing, allowing the book cover to act as wall art. (Perfect for a kid's room!) It's up to you!

At least half of the books on the shelf in our living room are from thrift stores. Not to mention all the books you can't see shoved behind the closing doors!

Uses: Decoration. And knowledge. 😊

6. KID'S TOYS

For the longest time I was worried that thrifting toys for June would be, in the words of Kelly Kapoor from the Office, "digusto-barfo." However, almost anything can be washed in the dishwasher, washing machine or soaked and set out to sanitize in the sun. I would say that over half of June's toys are from thrift stores. It's allowed me to "test out" toys for much, much cheaper price. Thrifted toys have given me a way to surprise my daughter with something "new" for literally a few dollars or less. 

Look for: Puzzles, games, educational toys, cars, animals, pull toys, bath toys.

7. DISHES + KITCHENWARE

Last, but certainly not least, is kitchenware. This is probably my favorite thrifting category. 😍 For as much as I love stores like Target, I love even more the personality and history older dishes, canisters, mugs and S&P shakers bring to a kitchen. Mixing old with the new is one of the quickest and most satisfying ways to make your home feel like home. Look for pieces that align with the style of your kitchen and home -- mid century, modern, farmhouse, rustic, etc. And then find a few pieces that make no sense at all but you. love. them. That's what really matters!

Look for: flatware, canisters, cheese platter + appetizer trays, coffee mugs that make you smile, cake pans, etc.

Saranoni Blanket Giveaway! by Brooke Courtney

I normally shy away from giveaway posts, but when I got a message from Saranoni about doing one with them, I literally couldn't email them back fast enough to say "Yes! Count me in!" Two years ago, Saranoni kindly sent us a blanket for June not long after she was born. I had never heard of Saranoni at the time, but happily said yes and thought "luxury blanket? Sure!" Little did I know June would declare that blanket as her blankie - the one we take everrrrrywhere!

I did not know that luxury blankets were even a thing, but holy cow -- they are. We now have four of them in four different sizes (XL, Teen, Receiving + Mini), and June insists we lay all of them down on the floor whenever she plays with her toys. Sometimes she'll just swirl around on them and go "oooooo" for like 10 minutes... and I don't blame her. I wanna do the same thing!  😂

I'm giving away a $75 gift card to their shop on my Instagram -- @brookecourtney. Head over there to enter the giveaway!

Last week June realized that her kitty cat piano has a microphone that actually works. Which has lead to lots of singing realllllly hard and loud into the mic - yelling the names of everyone she knows, much like a hardcore singer. "Miiii-miiiiii. Clarrrrrrr-ahhhhhh.... Moummmmm-mmmmmmaaaaa."

The Eggplant Lush/Charcoal Lush XL is what's featured below!

June has slept with her little tan blanket since the day she received it, and now has a little "mini" version for her Baby. Every night when we tuck June into bed we have the routine of "June gets a blankie. Baby gets a blankie. June gets a lovey. Baby gets a lovey." It's the sweetest thing! She gets all excited and wiggley every time we pull blankie out of a bag, or hand it to her when she's sleepy.

We use our larger blankets every single day -- usually for story time. 💕 Also, how many of you feel like all you do is read Dragons Love Tacos? T.J. usually starts to read it the second or third time through in a different voice, just to switch things up, and June is never pleased. She whips around and says "No Dada! No!" (Note: the second image below, where she's giving T.J. the death stare because of his silly reading. 😂)

And with blankets as cozy as these, story time almost always turns into games of peek-a-boo. Which turns into dancing and being silly. When June is silly and declares "I'm funny"... it's just the best -- makes my mom heart soar.

You can enter the giveaway to win a $75 gift card to Saranoni on my Instagram. Have fun and good luck! ✨

ENTER GIVEAWAY HERE!

Thanks for entering!

Longwood Gardens - Orchid Extravaganza! by Brooke Courtney

I love taking June to new places, or watching her experience new things. Last week she ate a Skittle for the first time and I honestly thought her mind was going to explode. 😂 She just looked at me, wide-eyed, and said "Yummmmmy!" It was precious. So naturally, it was loads of fun seeing her experience Longwood Gardens for the first time last month. Technically she'd been to Longwood Gardens before, but she was only a few months old at the time and had no idea what was going on. I mean, she was incredibly adorable during the visit, which was enough to make some old ladies stop and take a photo with her 😂, but other than that, she basically just sat in her stroller while my Mom and I pointed out every other plant and flower, saying "Ohhh, look!" or more often, "Ohhh... why doesn't mine look like that?" Our most recent visit was much different, however! June looked at everything, while sprinting from one room to the next, barley giving us adults time to look at anything.

If you haven't been to Longwood Gardens before, you've gotta go. And you've got to go during different times of the year, too. Last month was the first time I'd had the chance to go and visit their Orchid Extravaganza. And holy cow, it was incredible. On the drive down there I thought to myself, "I mean, it'll be pretty. But like, I've seen lots of orchids at weddings and they're cool and all..." But no joke. It was mind blowing how many orchids there were - both in quantity and variety. My photos from our day do not do it justice!

This past November my Grandpa passed away at the beautifully old age of 95, leaving behind a family member/descendant for every year he was alive. Yes, you read that right, 95 people -- between his children and their spouses, their kids (my cousins) and spouses, and now their kids (like, June). How amazing is that! After my Grandmother passed away, when I was little, my Grandpa got remarried to a lovely lady by the name of Liz. My Grandpa and Grandma-Liz were married for a little over 22 years before he left us last fall. That is amazing, in and of itself.

I tell you all that to say, Liz was a major part of our family and loved Grandpa, and all of us, so well for all those years. She was even the inspiration for our Easter Egg Roll, where we literally bowl our Easter eggs down their long driveway every spring! Her children and family, however, live in New York and she is currently in the process of moving there now. Our trip to Longwood Gardens, with Liz, my Mom, June and I, was to honor Liz in a non-formal way, and spend a little more time with her before she packs up all of her things and starts fresh in New York, at the age of 74.

I think I can speak for all of us when I say we had a wonderful time walking around the gardens, breathing in that fresh "greenhouse air", annnnnnd chasing after June.

Several times throughout our visit I just had to strap June into her stroller so we could walk at the pace we wanted to. 😂 She was like a little rocket flying down the paths at full speed! And both my Mom and I dressed way too warm, so were sweating like crazy in the warm gardens, trying to keep up with sprint-legs-mc-gee!

One of June's favorite parts had nothing to do with the orchids at all, but was the puddles on the floor in one of the main gardens. She was insistent that my Mom run through them with her, back and forth, back and forth. (Insert another reason we were incredibly sweaty!)

You can imagine how thrilled she was when we ended our visit at the actual Children's garden and water play area.  They have little bugs you can scoop up out of the fountains, "paint brushes" you can use to paint the water on the walls, and loads of animal fountains that spout water across the distance of the entire garden!

Note: June totally thinks she's splashing me in the images below. 😂 Even though I was a good 4 feet from her with my camera at the time. She was giddy with excitment over "splashing Mama".

I would have let her really play and get wet in the fountains had it not been so cold outside! (We had a long walk back to our car, too.) I definitely want to go back in the summer when she can get as wet as she wants. I think I'll even bring her a change of clothes!

After watching the pelican fountain (below) blow bubbles in the water for what seemed like forever, we convinced June to leave the kid's gardens with the promise of lunch! We grabbed food at the cafe, which is delicious by the way, and eventually headed back out to our car and drove home.

It was a beautiful and refreshing day that I will remember for a long time. I am so glad I took my camera with me to capture those moments for us to look back on.

Also -- June and I are sending so much love to Grandma Liz on her new adventure in New York!

Keeping Busy on Cold Days by Brooke Courtney

Does anyone else feel like a total crazy person when you have to be inside all day with a toddler!?!? There's no way it's just me, right? Last week we had this unusually warm spurt for February weather in Pennsylvania. It was crazy warm. Like, June and T.J. were wearing shorts warm. Like, we played with bubbles and went for walks all hours of the day warm. And it spoiled us all!

It's cold now, like normal winter weather, and we're stuck inside all over again. My neighbor/friend Kim text me and was like "I know its only been a week, but I can't think of anything to do with Clara now that outside isn't an option." 😂 But... f'rills.

So, June and I have been stretching everyday things -- like brushing our teeth and reading books --  into much longer activities. For as creative as I can be, playtime with June is not something that I'd say comes naturally to me. That's T.J.'s department. I will make the house out of cardboard, and then T.J. and June will play in it. #teamwork

But I'm getting better. Learning to play with June in ways that come more naturally to me, and show myself some grace when I literally can't think of a single. thing. we could do.

June loves to read books, so one of my favorite things to do is pile all of her favorite books onto our bed and let her "read them" to me. 😂 Which sound a lot like, "Apple. Fall. Boom. Ohhhhh. Tacos. Dog. Click, clack Moooooooo!"

We've also been brushing our teeth together, simply for something to do. June has learned to climb up and sit on the back of the toilet, so she can reach the sink. We wet our toothbrushes together, put on the toothpaste (her favorite part) and "brush, brush, brush!" for like 15 minutes. She's also learned to "spit" in the sink, mimicking me when I brush, and it's so funny. She's not even spitting anything out, just making a spit sound in the general direction of the sink!

Also, note her "crazy eyes" below. 😂 She does it all the time now!

Too often I can be someone who thinks "This shouldn't take so long!" or "This is a waste of time." But, being a parent has gotten me (honestly: forced me) to slow down, and not feel like I need to be in a hurry all the time. On these cold winter days I literally have no where else I need to be, so brushing our teeth for 15 minutes is a perfect use of our time. 💕 Or when she wants to sit on her changing table and count her toes 800 times in a row, I don't feel like I should be doing something else anymore. This is it! This is life and parenting and it's awesome. Highly repetitive at this age, but awesome nonetheless. 😉

June and I also spend lots of time playing with the kitchen she got for Christmas. She pretends to cook eggs for me, and often serves them with mustard and a stick of butter. She'll place things in her microwave and then go "beep beep!" when they're "done cooking." It's so fun to watch her play and mimic what I do in the kitchen - which I assure you isn't serving eggs with mustard and a side of butter. 😂

The other thing we do is use our bathtub like a ball pit! T.J. ordered a bag of cheap "ball pit" balls from Amazon last year and they're so much fun. (They're easy to clean up and store in a big trash bag too!)

I let June play in our bathtub a lot, especially when I'm getting ready. It keeps her in one place, where she can still be in the room with me, but not near my makeup or hot curling iron! She loves to point out all of the colors of the balls and play with her trains and cars along the edge of the tub. And I love watching her play, while I paint my nails or pluck my eyebrows for the first time in 3 months. 😳

(Notice the cat toys that are mixed in with all of her toys below. 😹)

Hopefully there aren't too many weeks left of this cold windy weather, and before we know it we'll be outside again, playing on the front porch, and sippin' iced coffee in the sun. 

What are some of your current activities for toddlers when it's too cold to be outside? I'd love to know!


This post was sponsored by Primary -- an amazing clothing company for kids featuring brilliant basics that play well together. While this post was sponsored, all opinions are my own. There isn't a day that goes by where June isn't wearing an item from Primary. We really do love, and wear, their stuff all the time! 😍