Happy 30th to... ME! | The Butterfly Atrium by Brooke Courtney


About two weeks ago, on October 7th, I turned 30. FREAKIN' 30! That's nuts. Thirty years. Did I say that already? I turned THIRTY. Actually, I'm truly not bothered by it at all. The older I get the more I appreciate my age and what it means to me.

The weekend before my birthday, T.J. and I had the pleasure of staying at The Hershey Hotel for two days. However, it was rainy most of that weekend, so we didn't get to use our free Hershey Gardens + Butterfly Atrium tickets. Thankfully they were valid for an entire week, so we went back on my birthday!

We started off our morning inside the newly renovated Butterfly Atrium! It was beautiful and June really enjoyed it. As hundreds of butterflies flew around, she'd point to them and go, "Wooooooooow." It was so precious. She was also equally interested in sticking her hands in the little stream as she was in the butterflies themselves. You do you, Junie.

Several times we had butterflies land on us, which is so magical to see them up close like that. In fact, you have to be checked out in a room full of mirrors before you leave the atrium, to make sure you don't take any with you!

Also, June's little ponytail. I can't handle the cuteness.

I had thought about taking June earlier this spring, but am so glad we waited until this fall. She's loving all things animals right now and kept pointing to the trees and flowers too, taking it all in.

After we finished our time inside the Butterfly Atrium, we wanted to take a little more time before June's nap, so we wandered around The Children's Garden for a few minutes. Well, T.J. and I wandered, June sprinted from place to place. 😂

June's been teething hard for months now, working to get her 2 year molars through a bit early. Which is pretty obvious, since her fingers are in her mouth in every other photo these days!

I'm so glad we took a little morning day trip to the gardens as a family to commemorate my 30th. The rest of my birthday day was spent with family, sipping iced coffees on our front porch in the sun, and at our local town fair eating funnel cakes and french fries with friends.

Wake Up Better | Tuft & Needle by Brooke Courtney

I'm just going to come right out and say it, this mattress has been LIFE. CHANGING. Okay, okay, I know that sounds over-the-top, but seriously, it's been amazing. Several months ago when I started to makeover our master bedroom for method, both T.J. and I knew we needed a new mattress. We'd been sleeping on the same IKEA one for seven years, and while we loved it back when we purchased it, it wasn't giving us the good sleep we really needed. T.J. was getting, at times, several migraines a week related to back and neck problems. Something had to change!

Enter: Tuft & Needle. Insert: All the heart eyes!

Our mattress arrived in the mail, vacuum sealed in a box! It sounds impossible, but it's not. Welcome to the future my friends.

T.J. and I unrolled the mattress onto our new Ikea bed frame, cut off the plastic, and within a few minutes we had a full blown queen size mattress! As you can see in the one photo above, there is a nice layer of pillow top foam on the top. When I first sat down on the mattress, I was worried it was too soft, since I prefer a firm mattress. But once I laid down, dannnnnngggg... it's amazing, and the adaptive foam is just right. We've been sleeping on the mattress for almost three months now and I'm thrilled to say that T.J. has only had one headache since then! His neck and shoulder pain have almost completely gone away. #murrracle

While June doesn't sleep with us, she's been loving the new mattress as well. She currently lovesssss to play under the covers. She'll sit under there all alone, and then start calling for herself, like we call for her. "Juuuuuuune? Juuuuune?" It's quite possibly the cutest thing of all time.

All Tuft & Needle mattresses are designed and crafted in the U.S. (U-S-A! U-S-A!) You can read all about their story, products and even watch an unboxing video on their website.

Or you can just look at more cute photos of June having the time of her life on our bed.

If you're in the market for a new mattress sometime soon, I'd seriously suggest trying a Tuft & Needle mattress. You're welcome to come over and lay on mine for a few minutes if that'd help. 😂 You can help June look for the kitty-cats under the bed too, while you're here.

Disclosure: I was given a Tuft & Needle mattress in exchange for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own. 

Bedframe: Ikea | Mattress: Tuft & Needle | Sheets: Target | June's PJs: Old Navy | Kitty Doll: @bunniclub | Feel free to comment with any questions you might have!

An Afternoon at the Park by Brooke Courtney

Over the last year and a half of our lives, T.J. and I have welcomed a slower pace of life with open arms. Several weeks ago, on Labor Day, both T.J. and I took the day off. We didn't go into the studio to fold the extra t-shirts like we easily could have. We didn't stay at home and relax, all while replying to social media messages and comments from our couch. But instead, we took the entire day off.

If you know me well at all, you know I have a pretty bad memory. The amount of times someone will tell a story and I'll go "That happened???", is too many to count. Which is why I am so glad I brought my real camera along to the park earlier this month, to take a few photos of our little family on a beautiful day off.

T.J. and I were wanting an afternoon pick-me-up treat, so we went through the Starbucks drive-thru and then headed to one of my favorite parks in the town next to ours. We arrived at the park and the weather was beautiful. The light was bright and clear and the ducks were everywhere. I pulled out the old hot dog buns I'd packed in June's diaper bag and she and T.J. began to feed the ducks. June, however, had very little interest in feeding the ducks. Instead she ate most of the stale hot dog buns herself, leaving piles of crumbs behind for the ducks to gobble up. 

I don't think I'll ever get over how cute and precious it is to watch your child do something they've never done before - whether it be watching a parade, trying a new food, or feeding the ducks. June ran after the ducks, fists full of crunchy bread, glancing back over her shoulder to make sure we were watching - waiting for us to give her that "we see you, keep going" smile. It's just the sweetest thing.

Annnnnnd then after about seven minutes of bird chasing, she was done with the ducks and asking to go swing. 😂 As you'll see below, she was clearly very excited about it.

While T.J. and I sat on the bench and drank our iced coffees, June played in the sand - attempting to make new friends with the kids already there, bringing us the toys she was find and going "Ohhhhhhhhh" with each one.

Before we left, we took a lap around the entire park, which is split into two sides with a natural spring running right down the middle. June conquered the big steps all by herself and then ran down the ramp holding T.J.'s hands. That little pony tail and smirk are just too much!

That Front Porch Life by Brooke Courtney

I have always wanted a front porch to live on - to sip iced coffees, and read books, and have long afternoon conversations on. A porch to hand out Halloween candy from, decorate for Christmas and dry pool towels on in the heat of summer. I mean, technically we've always had a front porch. When we moved in to our little 1929 house seven years ago, the front porch was sufficient, but missing a railing. It left you feeling very open and exposed if you sat out there in your morning pajamas, or jammie-jams as we call them in our house, which wasn't very enjoyable. Years went by and we basically never used our front porch.

BUT NOT ANYMORE! Last fall, our talented friend Josh built us a porch railing and I'm so in love with it. I'm obsessed with the way it looks and the design he came up with. My only instructions to him were "something horizontal and stripe-y", while waving my hands side to side real fast, trying to picture what it would look like completed. 😂 Not only did we need a railing period, I also wanted it to look more modern and "us" than something we could have picked out at a local hardware store. Again, I'm so thrilled with how it turned out!

I'd been in the market for a baby gate for awhile when Munchkin reached out to partner up and promote their Vibe Baby Gate. It couldn't have been more perfect timing. June adores being outside and playing on our porch, I however, do not adore the idea of her falling down the porch steps, or climbing down them and half way across the block while I pop back inside for an iced coffee refill. I really didn't want to put a gate out there that was, for lack of a better word, ugly. Ha ha! Enter: the Vibe.

The weather has been beautiful lately. Yesterday we were out on the front porch for almost two hours playing with toys, reading books, eating snacks, pointing at airplanes, and all of it made my Momma heart so happy. Note June's dirty little feet in the photo below... I just... I can't even... 😍

One of my favorite things about the Vibe gate, besides how sturdy it is, is the mesh panel in the middle. Hello privacy. Not only does the color of the gate happen to match our front porch perfectly - like, weirdly perfectly - the clean and modern design fits seamlessly with our new railing. Amazing. Knowing the front porch is safe for June has quite literally added a whole new room to our house during the warmer months.

If you're in the market for a baby gate, I'd highly suggest Munchkin's Vibe Gate. It's baller. (Register for it if you're expecting, too!)

June's neighbor and bestie, Clara, came over yesterday to play. June was pumped up when she saw Kim and Clara coming across the street. I love watching her get so excited about things!

Now that kids are back in school, June loves watching the school buses drive by our house every afternoon. I picked up a toy school bus at a thrift store this week for $2.75 and she loves it. When they drive by she claps and yells "YAY!" for them, like it's a parade.

Clara has started giving kisses and leans in with this face when she wants to give you one. 😂 It's so cute. I can't imagine not having awesome neighbors like we do. You have no idea how often Kim and I text each other with "Can my kid come over and stare at yours?" when we're trying to keep them awake, busy or are just looking for an excuse to eat cookies together.

I'm already thinking about how I want to decorate the porch for fall. And Halloween. And Christmas. And next spring...  And then I get thinking about our back deck and all the possibilities that holds if we get that redone! (It's currently really ugly and sinking into the ground. For reals. 😂) Dinner parties and sandboxes and comfy chairs and all. the. plants. Next year!

This post was sponsored by Munchkin. As always, all opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting my blog and the awesome people who sponsor it.

Soft, Not-Too-Sweet Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies by Brooke Courtney

I have always loved baking chocolate chip cookies. It was the first recipe I ever memorized, which was simply because I made them so often growing up. My Mom and I had this deal where if I was willing to mix up the dough, she'd bake them, every time. By the time the dough was done, all I wanted to do was eat them - not bake them! And the thought of mixing up the dough would often keep my Mom from making them at all. So, clearly it was a win win system we came up with!

Since I've had the basic Nestle Tollhouse recipe memorized since 7th grade, I often try changing different things here and there. Different chocolate, less sugar, added oatmeal, mixed nuts, etc. But my recent switch-up to the recipe has been my favorite so far - bread flour. It makes the cookies extra soft, but not undercooked. In my personal opinion, they're freakin' amazing. But don't take my word for it. I guessssss you'll just have to make an entire batch for yourself and find out.  Bummer... 😉 So here you have it - my bread flour, less sugar, dark chocolate chip cookie recipe!


  • 2 sticks of butter (room temperature -- soft)
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/4 c. bread flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2-3 cups good quality dark chocolate chips
  • chopped walnuts, if desired


Preheat oven to 375°

In a large mixing bowl, combine soft (not melted) butter, sugars and vanilla well. Scrape down the edges of your bowl and add one of the eggs. Beat well. Repeat with second egg.

Mix 2 cups of the bread flour into the dough. Place the remaining 1/4 cup of flour in a small bowl, or larger measuring cup, and add your baking soda and salt to the flour. Mix together. Then mix this flour-salt-baking soda mixture into your dough!

Add chocolate chips (and nuts, if you want) to your dough and mix well.

I love using a cookie scoop. You can find them at most stores, or you could totally get one on Amazon. I highly suggest you get one!

Using your scoop, fill a parchment lined baking sheet with dough. I am able to fit a perfect dozen on my cookie sheet, which I love.

Place sheet into preheated oven and bake for 8-10 minutes. For my oven, its 9 minutes on the dot. Yours may differ. Also, set your timer. You don't want to burn these!

As you wait the 8-10 long minutes for the cookies to be done, go do something productive. Otherwise you'll just stand in the kitchen and eat the dough. Not that I know that from experience or anything.

DING! Your timer is done. Remove cookies from oven and let cool on an elevated baking rack. Bake the remaining dough until you've scraped the mixing bowl clean!

Then grab a few while they're still warm and dig in. Share with your neighbors. Freeze some (once totally cooled) to eat another day. Take some to work. Or eat them all yourself.  😂 I mean, you do you. Enjoy!