An impromptu “parents night out” because we recently discovered the magic of having a joint babysitter! The little girls all love it; the older girls do too.
I used to love putting these slices-of-life posts together, so I’m back at it today. :) Here are a few photos I found on my camera roll today:
I’m cooking for “Sunday Family Dinner Nights.” SHOCKING, I KNOW. But how many times can I order pizza? 😆 I followed this recipe for One-Skillet Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato Chicken and Orzo, and I was shocked to discover that it actually turned out great. A little crispy on the edges because I am deathly afraid of undercooked chicken, but crossing my fingers I get better over time!
Cooking has always intimated me. But since 2024 is the year of “you can learn anything if you’re willing to put in the time/effort,” I’m showing up. And I have to say that I love my trips to Trader Joe’s to find the ingredients; going used to be a chore since I largely bought the same things, but now it’s fun. And there’s a bit of pride when a recipe comes out somewhat decent and the family likes it!
Over the weekend, we visited Rebuilder’s Exchange. It’s a cool spot in Chicago where you can find repurposed construction and renovation materials. Think aisles and aisles of beautiful vintage doors, and our old bathtub from our bathroom renovation back in 2016. (We swear to god it’s still here, hahaha. Any takers? I must warn you: It weighs roughly 75 tons.) Lucy had a total ball running around and “being in charge of the store,” as the manager asked her while he went upstairs for a few minutes. Those two really hit it off, and she left with some beautiful tile to paint at home. Mitch is signing up for a Rebuilder’s Exchange woodworking class, so that’s fun too!
Roughly a month behind schedule, but I finally started the annual Larkin Purge/Organization Effort. Last year I went hard, so this year has been pleasantly easy in comparison! I’m just tackling one or two spaces every day. Yesterday, I organized the Tupperware cabinet, Emma organized the kitchen island and canned goods cabinets, and Lucy battled the sock drawer. We blasted Taylor Swift and honestly had a great time! (How cute is it that the girls enjoy helping? They take such pride in their work!)
I know I talk about these boots SO often, but I’m nervous that the Doc Martens sale is going to end soon, and I want everyone to know the magic of them before they go back up in price! The boots are waterproof and fur-lined throughout their entirety, and they have an air-cushioned sole. They require no break-in time (like actually) and they look cute with leggings, skinny/wide-leg/demi-boot jeans, and skirts/dresses. They’re such a nice little break from wearing snow boots all the time, as they look really cute but are also extremely rugged! I first bought them in brown but then had to get the black since I was wearing them so often. I’m absolutely in love and hope you get them while they’re still discounted! (Btw: They run completely true to size, however, they only come in full sizes. If you’re a half size like I am, simply go up to the nearest whole size.)
I don’t know if you remember this, but my brother has been slowly renovating his beautiful 100-year-old home in New Orleans over the last year. I can’t believe how incredible it’s turning out. Patrick is a doctor, but woodworking is his #1 stress-reliever. (Perhaps woodworking is something a lot of dads get into in their late 30s?! Ha!) The built-ins in his family room were a little beaten up, and he knew he could make them more functional for his family. So he BUILT and installed drawers, and replaced the old cabinet doors. He also closed off the window behind the television—it was blocked by a shed, anyway—and installed lights above the shelves. The painters are coming next week, and I can’t wait to see the transformation!
Emmalou Candle Co. in progress! Lately we’ve been loving the stage of painting the candle vessels. Painting one only takes about five to ten minutes, so it’s the perfect activity for littles. I should also note that going to pottery places was expensive, and Mitch didn’t love it when I took the girls too often. I mean, I get it. I do! But this is the perfect solution.
If you’d like to make and paint your own pottery at home without a kiln, here’s what we use:
- Air-Dry Clay (Crayola actually makes a really good one, too!)
- Silicone and housing to make molds of vessels
- Candle-safe casting powder or cement
- Acrylic paint
Fast forward a few hours later for Family Dinner Night, and we’re in the same crafting spot, making chocolate-dipped strawberries! Thank you to Sammy for taking the lead on that one. ♥️
Downtown for a school function with Mitch! It was a lovely date night of sorts. ;) Really not sure why I did my hair as it was instantly ruined by the mist, but hey. I tried. Loved meeting new people, and very grateful to be part of such a wonderful community. Our girls are in such good hands at school.
Afterwards we went to Vinci for pizza. Sometimes, sitting at the bar is so fun. We made a lot of friends, haha! Love meeting people in the neighborhood. I sound like Mr. Rogers.
I bought this adorable scalloped planter from Target because it was only $14.99. It had a drainage hole at the bottom, but Mitch had a genius idea of plugging it with the stopper from a children’s medicine syringe. It worked flawlessly, and I turned it into the largest candle we’ve ever owned, haha. Next time I need to make sure I space out the wicks a bit better, but it definitely brings hygge joy on these gloomy days!
We recently attended a Winter Wonderland Party, and the girls adored it. Emma really nailed the outfit, no?! I can’t seem to find a photo of Lucy’s ensemble, but she characteristically wore a “rehearsal dinner dress,” as the lace looked like snowflakes. Both girls looked beautiful sporting their individual styles!
There was a pic taken of Emma and her two gal pals, so the moms decided to do the same and surprise them. We’re not regular moms! Jk, totes are.
Lucy celebrating her pal’s birthday. She has the cutest little group of girlfriends, and I’m so happy for her. She hated being a baby 😆 but LOVED being a kid!
All hail the Kindle. We are 100-percent obsessed at age 7, and she actually got a bunch of her friends on board too! They gather during recess to read together. It’s really adorable, and the English teacher within me is so happy about it.
I’ll talk more about this soon, but Libby (FREE public library e-book/audiobook app) has been a godsend. Emma goes through books quickly, which is great! But there’s nothing worse than buying a new book and realizing that she’s just not into it. (She also gets discouraged and ends up feeling like she’ll never find another book she loves!) And while we used to go to the library in-person, the selection wasn’t always great. Libby, however, is GREAT. It’s organized extremely well, and she can browse guides very easily. She can “tag” books she’d like to read in the future, place holds on books that are currently out, and borrow from the huge “currently available” catalog. There is always something she’s excited to read. Right now, she is burning through the HQ “Who/What Is?” series.
Here is an example of some free Libby read-aloud books Lucy checked out recently!
Lucy similarly adores it. As she is still learning to read, the Kindle is less appealing to her. But the Libby app on a tablet is fantastic, so we simply plug in her headphones and put on “Guided Access” so she can’t click out. Works GREAT. Libby actually has a very large collection of read aloud books, and Lucy looks forward to picking hers out every night. Scaredy Squirrel is her current obsession!
I should note that Libby’s read aloud collection is why we’re actually able to pull off Family Reading Night with a four-year-old. Before, Emma would get upset when we’d read out loud to Lucy because it was distracting. Which we totally understood! Now, however, we read out loud to Lucy at other times throughout the day, and before bed. During Family Reading Night, she uses Libby with her headphones so that everyone can enjoy their own books. :)
In case anyone else isn’t where they wanted to be by the end of January… Hi! It’s me, surrounded by laundry (most of which is clean, thank goodness) and clutter. Finally got those H&M kids‘ returns in the mail, though. Killin’ it! ;)