Recent Reads


Another interruption in my travel posts, just to mix it up. Also, honestly, trying to delay getting to the end of those. Jordan and I are greatly enjoying a look back through the pictures and places of our trip to England.

The last Recent Reads post I did was back in July! Here's what I've read since then...
*Sorry this graphic is so blurry, but I did a major shortcut that saved me tons of time so I'm just going with it for now.

**Also I had NO idea I had read so many murder mysteries the past few months! I really do love me a good murder mystery.

4.5 stars // The People in the Photo by Helene Gestern

I picked up this book at the library while I was looking for something else solely based on the cover and title. It's the story of two people who discover that they have a family connection after looking at an old black-and-white photograph. The story is told mainly through letters and emails and explores the truths they uncover about their parents' pasts. 

This is a really lovely book. Very simple with only a few characters. It's sweet but also heartbreaking with a touch of mystery. I enjoyed it!

For fans of: mystery, stories told through letters, memories, romance
Should you read it? Yes

4.5 stars // Murder at the Brightwell by Ashley Weaver (Amory Ames #1)
4.25 stars // Death Wears a Mask by Ashley Weaver (Amory Ames #2)

I mentioned this book in my currently post last week. It was recommended by a blog friend, and I have read the first two books in this series now and like them a lot! They are clean, fun murder mysteries set in old England with a likable protagonist who is, I will add, totally reliable! ;) 

My only comment is that the books are wrapped up nicely at the end, which I personally don't mind but some people get annoyed about that. I also struggle a bit with what to think about Amory's husband, Milo. I love them together but find their dynamic a bit frustrating at times. Though I suppose that's the point to add interest to the story.

For fans of: murder, girl power, British society, reliable narrators

Should you read it? Definitely yes!

Travel Log: York, UK


On Tuesday we left Liverpool and headed east to York! The train ride was about 2.5 hours with a few stops along the way. If Liverpool was Jordan's destination, York was mine. I discovered during my planning that we were going to be in England the very week of York's annual food festival. I love fair and festivals like that and thought it would be something neat to do and see some of the culture and food of England all in one place. 

When I started looking up more information about York, I was convinced we had to go there. It sounded like such a neat town, and it really was! We are so glad we went and were sad to only have a short time there. We arrived in the afternoon on Tuesday and left Wednesday afternoon.

Our Air BnB was the cutest little place ever on the top floor of a building with a cafe beneath it (above is the view from our window). The location was excellent: walking distance to the festival and main shopping area. York is a historic walled city that was built in 71 AD by the Romans. HELLO OLD STUFF. You can actually walk along the top of the wall that surrounds the city, and that was pretty cool.

Currently October


I see my future with teenagers. HOLD ME.

I'll interrupt my travel posts to bring you a currently post! Here's what I'm up to these days...

eating: Hello Fresh deliveries. This is our third time to get a Hello Fresh box in the mail. I love the concept, don't love the price. For us, it's not budget friendly or cost effective, and I can't justify getting it every week. That said, I got a $25 off coupon and decided to get a box with it. It's for "new customers" only, so I sign up under a different email address and get it delivered to a different address! Don't judge me. With the discount, it feels like only a minor splurge. The two meals we got this week have by far been the best we've had. They were actually as easy to make as they claimed to be and were freaking delicious, and I feel like for once the Instagram ad is true to life. Sadly, we will not be continuing our subscription, but it was fun while it lasted. Until next time...

p.s. You can use this code to get $40 off if you want to try! (Or try again lol)

reading: The first Amory Ames mystery, recommended by Audrey on a recent book roundup. I've been in a reading funk for a month or so, and this book was a super fun, quick read I finished in just a few days. Definitely recommend for those who love mysteries but don't love all the gore/sex/language/creep factor that can sometimes go along with them.
He's 16 months old now! Just keep holding me, thank you.

ordering: A dress from this shop for R for Christmas. Yes, I said Christmas. She is really into dressing up right now, and when I pick her up at daycare she is always wearing some kind of outfit or princess dress. On Friday she was at a kiddie table with 3 other kids. They had food spread out in front of each of them, and R was standing wearing some kind of coat. When she saw me, she said, "Mama, we are having a picnic and I'm the food cooker." It was super cute. 

Anyway, someone in a FB group I'm in recommend these dresses, and it's a bit of a splurge, but I really think R will get a ton of use out of it and just absolutely love it, so I picked out one for Christmas. You can use the code GRmPpy3prS to get a discount. This is not sponsored at all, but I do think if you use that code I get points or something. I honestly don't know how it works, but I figured I'd pass it along.

wishing: Well it's probably no surprise that I wish I were back in England. I honestly didn't think we'd end up going. I bought travel insurance on our flight tickets and most of our hotels because I was sure something would come up with the world events or our kids or something and it wouldn't happen. But it did, and it was awesome. So thankful we were able to go. If you've missed the last couple of posts, I recapped our time in Boston and our time in Liverpool, and I have travel videos for both also if that's your kind of thing.
I drew the sun and the "hi" (yes, I am an amazing artist, thank you for saying that), and then when I wasn't looking R "colored in the white parts." JUST KEEP HOLDING ME AND NEVER LET GO. I'm fine.

wearing: this sweater, which I shared about in my Europe packing list post. I wore it this weekend when we took family photos, and my friend who was taking our pictures showed up wearing the exact same sweater in a different color. She said she bought it after seeing me post about it, and it made me want to buy three more because it looked super cute on her. It's still on sale, though sadly not as much of a deal as it was when I first posted the link a few weeks ago. I'm regretting not buying another one then! I think I'll stalk it now and see if it goes down again.

Well I think that's it for now. It's been a few weeks since we've been back from our trip, but I still feel like I'm adjusting. Work has been crazy busy lately, and I'm already feeling like I want a break again. What even is life. 

I hope you had a good weekend! It finally stopped raining and felt like fall here in OK for .087 seconds and I loved it so much.

Travel Log: Liverpool, UK


Continuing our travel posts! I can't believe it's already been two weeks since we came back. It  was so nice not cooking or cleaning or, well just dealing with all of life for a bit ;)

I've only been to Europe once before, and that was in college for an 11-day January term trip with a class to Greece. Jordan has never been to another continent before. We liked the idea of going to England because we knew it was going to be relatively familiar to us at least as far as the language and general customs. We were definitely going to spend a few days in London during the trip, but we also wanted to travel to a couple different places around England.

Liverpool was Jordan's must-go #1 destination because he's a big fan of their football (soccer) team, and we either wanted to try to see a game or do an Anfield Stadium tour. So Liverpool was the first location we officially booked (and it was honestly what finally sold Jordan on the idea of actually doing the trip!). We were in Liverpool for 2 days and 2 nights and stayed in this Air Bnb. (If you have never used Air BnB before, you can use my referral link and get $40 off your first trip. I've now used Air BnB six separate times and had great experiences for all!)

You may have heard of Liverpool because it's the home of The Beatles. There was a carpool karaoke with Paul McCartney where they drove around Liverpool! You can watch it on YouTube, and if you skip ahead to 15:42, they go into the pub where Jordan and I ate dinner our first night (Sunday).
We flew into London (Gatwick) Sunday morning and immediately took a train from the airport to the main London Victoria station. From there we both bought an Oyster card and took the underground to another train station, which took us to Liverpool Lime Street Station (roughly a 2-hour train ride; Liverpool is to the north west of London). I ended up sitting next to a guy who was from Liverpool and worked in administration at one of the universities. He was super nice and suggested a few places to eat and things to do.

Packing: 11 Days in a Backpack


I love it when someone goes on vacation and then comes back and blogs something like "Definitive How-To For [insert thing here]" as if they suddenly became an expert on this one aspect of travel or one specific location after doing it for the very first time.

So I'm not going to pretend that I know everything about packing light for carrying all your clothes and other stuff in a backpack for 11 days. Because I definitely could have packed even lighter! Also Jordan carried my toiletry bag in his backpack (and complained about it the entire week, but we won't talk about that). But I am super impressed with myself for how I packed and wanted to share in case anyone else feels inspired to take a rolling suitcase-less vacation ;) Below is everything I brought to England, including the clothes I wore during travel, all pictured above (and below)!

*Affiliate links are used in this post. I receive a few cents (literally, cents) when you click on a link, at no cost to you! Thanks for supporting my writing and my blog.

1. Outerwear
1 medium-weight Columbia jacket
1 lightly padded black full-zip vest from Old Navy
-1 cold-gear Nike half-zip hoodie

We went at a good time of year, meaning that it was in the 50s/60s mainly, with some parts of the day in the low 70s as the sun rose. We didn't need heavy coats, but I did take my Columbia jacket that I bought at the outlet mall near us a few years ago and layered long sleeves underneath.

2. Bottoms
-1 pair of regular blue jeans
-1 pair of black jeans
-1 pair of sweatpants for the airplane ride/sleeping in
-1 pair of comfy shorts for sleeping in

I didn't need anything else and used everything I brought! Perfect! I loved having one pair of blue jeans and one pair of black jeans so I could feel like I was switching up my look a bit. Plus the skinny black jeans felt more European to me ;)

3. Gallon Ziploc Bags
-1 for underwear/bras
-1 for socks

I squeezed the air out of each bag, and they were a compact way to keep things together. As the trip went on and things got dirty, I used one bag for dirty stuff and one bag for clean!

This was my birthday present to myself this year in preparation for our England trip. It's from LL Bean (love them!) has a hood that fully covers my face, lots of pockets, is fully waterproof, and (most importantly) folds up into itself. We didn't actually even take these out the entire time we were gone, which was crazy since I feel like England is known for being wet. But it was good to have them and nice they packed up so small.

5. Shoes
-2 pairs of walking shoes

I brought 2 pairs of walking shoes because I wanted to be able to switch out a pair every other day or so. A surprise favorite were these sneakers, which I brought more because they were cuter than my Brooks running shoes, but actually they help up so well and were super comfortable even after an entire day of walking! I have to give thanks to Rachel for first sharing about these on her blog. I could have gone the whole trip with just this pair, honestly.

-1 pair of Old Navy flip flops (I thought I might want these for walking around the hotel/air bnb at night. I ended up never taking these out of the backpack! But it was good to have them just in case.)

-1 pair of flats (*I didn't need these at all, but my thought was that maybe we would go somewhere nice and I wouldn't want to wear my grungy tennis shoes. I momentarily forgot we are neither fancy nor extravagant dinner people lol)

6. Extras
-1 flowery lightweight scarf
-1 medium-weight solid teal scarf
-1 headwrap (goes around your head like earmuffs)
-1 pair of lightweight gloves (didn't end up wearing at all)

I absolutely needed my scarves and am glad I brought them. I wanted two so I could mix it up with my outfit. Plus the weight of each was a bit different, so I could pick which I needed depending on the temperature outside.

7. Layering Tops
-1 brown sweater from J Crew* (side note: this came in my most recent Stitch Fix box. I requested something to wear on our Europe trip, and it was perfect. It looks like it's on sale right now too, sooooo... I might be buying one in another color.)
-1 green long-sleeved cardigan from Target
-1 purple half-button long-sleeved henley from Old Navy
-1 lightweight denim button-down

8. Sleeping Tops
-So actually, the very first thing pictured under #8 are my pink/orange sleeping shorts.
-1 longsleeved shirt (for sleeping)

-2 short-sleeved t-shirts (for sleeping) *really only needed 1 t-shirt

9. Comfy but Cute Tops
-2 tank tops (Do not even talk to me about any other tank tops. These are the best. Yes, they are maternity. I bought some when I was pregnant with R and have literally not bought any other layering tank since. I'm wearing one right now, in fact.)
-2 solid short-sleeved shirts (cuter than your average t-shirt but comfy for travel and layering!)

So that's it! Plus my toiletry bag, which was in Jordan's backpack as previously mentioned. 

Is anyone still with me? Is this the most boring blog post of all time? 
No, don't answer that.

But I have learned that you can pack light if you need, and in fact I could have packed lighter! It's all fun and games until you are literally carrying everything on your back ;)

What would you have packed differently than me?

Travel Log: Boston, Massachusetts


I am completely overwhelmed at the thought of recapping our trip because there's so much to say and so many photos, so I figure I should probably just dive on in. 

We officially booked this trip back in March, but we've been talking about a trip to Europe for 4 or 5 years, mostly as a "wouldn't that be fun" kind of thing. Then last year around Christmas, we were thinking about what we wanted to do in 2018, and we decided the timing was pretty good for a fall vacation based on the ages of the kids and a gap before we might try for Baby Bum #3 and just the fact that we should just finally go ahead and do it while we could!

I honestly felt self-conscious even talking about our trip to anyone for a few reasons, but one of them was because I've read enough comments on blog posts and articles about working motherhood to know that a lot of people think families with two working parents have a lot of money and choose to work so they can have extra funds for fancy things. Every time I mentioned we were going to Europe, I wanted to follow it with, we aren't swimming in money. this is very unusual for us. we have never done anything like this before. But people will think what they want, I suppose, so that's neither here nor there. We saved for this trip just like we save for any other trip, which I talked about at length in this blog post if you're interested!

We decided to borrow backpacks from friends of ours who have traveled to Europe a few times. Since we were going to be moving around to a few locations in England and getting on and off trains, we wanted to pack as light as we could and liked the idea of being able to carry our stuff rather than pull a suitcase around. It ended up being the absolute perfect decision, and I am so glad we did it! I am also super impressed with myself that I was able to pack for 11 days of travel in just one backpack that I carried!

Of the two of us, I'm the one who plans our trips, books our flights and places to stay, and researches things to do and places to eat. Of course, I talk to Jordan about it before I confirm payment, but in general I make all of those types of decisions (because he doesn't really care and I kind of do care haha!). After looking at flight prices along with times and dates that might work with our work schedules, I decided that it would be the cheapest to catch a flight out of the Dallas airport to somewhere on the East Coast and then take a direct flight to London. That's how we ended up with a mini "trip within a trip" by spending a day and half in Boston before we flew to the UK! We drove from OKC to Dallas with both the kids so that my parents could take us to the airport and start out the first half of the week with R and J.

I've been to Boston once before on a family vacation when I was a teenager, but Jordan hadn't been. And honestly, I only remember it vaguely. We got to Boston around 3:30 in the afternoon and ended up taking a water taxi across the bay (long story short, we were supposed to take a ferry but didn't). That was super neat! We ate seafood for dinner and walked a bit of the Freedom Trail before heading to our hotel.

The next morning we ate quiche at the cutest breakfast place and then walked all day following the Freedom Trail and saw pretty much all the sights! After we walked up 294 stairs at the Bunker Hill Monument (which is at the end of the Freedom Trail), we ate lunch at Little Italy (after getting hangry and getting into a minor argument), and then took a Lyft to the airport. It was such a fun mini trip to start off our week in England.

Water taxi! Not the cheapest option, but it was fun. And it was really only like $10 more than our Lyft we took the next day so not crazy expensive.
We had a minor panic in the morning involving our plane tickets. We weren't able to check in online, and there was a notice that our passports needed to be affirmed at least 3 days in advance and we hadn't done it yet. We freaked out and thought we weren't going to be able to fly, so we called the airline and talked to them directly. Everything was fine, but man we were panicking! New to international travel lol ;)
One of our favorite parts of the Freedom Trail was going on board the USS Constitution. I just think it's neat how many ropes and things go into making and running a ship. It was cool to go into the lower decks and see the cannons and bunks and crazy to think about people actually being out in the middle of the ocean in one of these.

Our flight was delayed an hour, and we ended up leaving Boston at 10:30 pm for an overnight flight to London (Gatwick), getting in at 9:30 the next morning! From there we traveled to Liverpool, York, Cambridge, and back to London, so I'll have separate posts for each of those places. I know travel recap posts aren't everyone's favorite, but it's good motivation for me to get some photos edited and memories down in writing before I make my official Shutterfly photo book ;)

Also, feel free to let me know if you have any specific questions or want to know about anything in particular!

Adventure to England


Hello! It's been a minute. I don't think I've ever taken this much time away from the blog since I started blogging in 2010. But this summer has been so busy for us, and then Jordan and I left the kids with their grandparents and took off on an adventure just the two of us! We just got back late Monday night. We spent a total of 11 days on vacation, 8 in England and then a few days on each end in Boston as a mini vacation within a vacation. It was absolutely the most amazing time!

Here's me in front of Buckingham Palace. The Queen is out of town for 10 weeks each summer, and you can buy tickets to tour inside, so that's what we did! You can't take any photos inside or even have your cell phone in your hand at all. We went through security and metal detectors and everything.

I am overwhelmed by how many photos and videos I took, and of course I am going to put together a vacation recap video. I also want to share a bit about why we decided to take this trip now and how we planned it in case anyone else is considering a trip to the UK. We loved it so much!

What I think I will do is split up my recap posts by location, since we traveled to a few different places. I'm excited to share some of our trip with you! And get some photos edited and memories down for my own sake. The vacation magic is already fading and real life is not quite as much fun as touring around Europe ;)