just because

this has been happening a lot lately with no prompting. you wont catch me complaining.

are they lobbying for a sandbox by climbing INTO the sand and water table (which is filled with dry rice and black beans because sand makes me insane)?

proof that god has a sense of humor: making these little guys who invisibly rappel down from branches, roofs and umbrellas to brighten our days with their sinusoidal movement.

she's kind of fashion-y too, yall

see? happening a lot. (and that would be dry rice stuck in her snot on her face. layla gets 40% of her fiber intake from eating the contents of this play table...and a free pollen inoculation!)


the march sponsor giveaway winners have freshly picked by the random robot this morning. here are the results:

the winner of the free item from crochet melly is:

fortune favors the latecomers! that means the lucky winner is:
and the winner of the free earrings from poppy chain boutique:

I am repulsed by squeaky cotton between my teeth. Spiney chills just thinking about that. Can you picture putting a towel in your mouth and it squeaking between your teeth? Yeah, that's the feeling.

Now I can't stop cringing. Thanks. It is a good thing those earrings are so lovely, else this repulsion wouldn't be worth it...

holy cow, i am SO glad that i asked yall to leave your weirdest fear/revulsion. i was lol'ing like mad all day as they came in. soft things! maggots! bare feet! vultures! jello! sticky hands! wet clothes! though i am a little nervous that one day i will meet you and accidentally gulp liquid, click my teeth, slurp a soda can, or leave a strand of my wet hair on you and you will kill me. or if i accidentally drop a great white shark in your swimming pool :)

i am actually glad natasha won, because her revulsion cracked me up possibly the most (though wet wood was up there too) due to its raging specificity and her effort to power through describing it to enter the giveaway.

yall email me and i will get you in touch with your craftswomen! (putapuredukes (at) gmail (dot) com)

and dont forget to use the generous discounts at both of the shops:

15% off your entire order at crochet melly through saturday with code GIVEAWAY15 at checkout

free shipping this week from poppy chain boutique with code SPRINGFREESHIP


when pinning = winning

i havent done a weekly pinspiration post lately, but fear not, ye intrepid surfers of the internet, pinterest is still making a huge impact on our DIY life.

jesse and i were enjoying an AMAZING date on saturday night outside by our pinspired firepit on a PERFECT night, and i was talking about how silly it was, but that pinterest really has made our life noticeably more magical. i had had 1.5 glasses of wine at this point, so it went something like, "oh my goooosh, jesse, for real though. pinterest has like, literally, like seriously, made our life better, you knooooow?" and i might have teared up.

12 oz of wine and i am the most earnest mushball you've ever met.

60 degrees, $0, and a 20 foot commute. date night done RIGHT!

i would say that we do/eat/make something found on or inspired by pinterest at least 4 times a week. here are a few of my most recent favorites:

true confession: i can't boil eggs.

this is sad because i LOVE boiled eggs (if any of you have an egg aversion, this is about the get real, so tread carefully). when i was a kid my favorite breakfast was a creation my dad would make for me and him on saturday mornings. he would medium-boil some eggs and then mash them up in a coffee cup (the coffee cup is crucial) with a little butter and salt. and then we would eat them with spoons and watch cartoons. probably one of my most cozy and favorite memories with him just because it's so stupid and simple and he wasnt even trying to be a great dad in those moments, but he was anyway.

so it is slightly heartbreaking that as a college-graduate adult i cannot boil eggs. i can never remember if the eggs go in before the water is boiling or after. i always end up with cracked and watery eggs. and eggwater makes me a little ill. so imagine my delight with my pinbot told me that you could make "boiled" eggs in the OVEN!!! god bless alton brown.

half the ingredients of traditional boiled eggs!

these are mind-buzzingly simple and turned out more consistent and perfect than any egg i've ever cooked jacuzzi-style.


1. put however many egg you want directly on the rack of a COLD oven. (put a cookie sheet underneath if you're nervous...though i have never had a cracked egg). close the door.

2. turn the oven on 325.

3. walk away.

4. come back in 24 minutes for pefect, fluffy, medium/soft boiled eggs! (30 min for truly hard-boiled).

you still have to peel them, doy...but let's be honest, that tedious task kind of appeals to the freak in me who also enjoys peeling sunburn skin and smoothing tinfoil.

the protein intake of my family has increased significantly since this discovery.

another happy discovery was a trustworthy recipe for pickled red onions. now dont get all fussy on me. if you've never had these, dont get excited and judge. yes, a red onion is a powerful thing. whenever i get them on my subway sammie and taqe it back to work, my coworkers force me to brush my teeth and throw my garbage outside because those little purple buggers are potent to the MAXX.

so the first time i was served a pile of pickled red onions at a restaurant (atop rare salmon) i was skeptical that they would scorch my esophagus and jesse would never make out with me again. not so, padawans! the piclling process takes all the bite out of them and leaves them sweet, crunchy and--the best part--hot pink!

the chick who made the recipe is amazing. balling photographer, cancer survivor, former nasa employee, outdoor studmuffin and amazing chef. she's the one who gave me the espresso shortbreads...damn her. i trust her implicitly.

and in about 10 minutes, i had these beauties (in my only mason jar...the party favors from this amazing wedding)

this is a horrid pic taken before they had even cooled. they are so much pinker now, sitting in my fridge.

my tip for making these: the recipe calls for star anise, cinnamon stick, and whole cloves, none of which i had, and all of which publix wanted over $5 for EACH for these suckers in the spice aisle. being genius (aka cheap/desperate) i shimmied over to the ethnic foods aisle and found them all for less than $2 a bottle. viva mexico!

the blogger recommended serving these atop a signature sandwich, which i totally did. now the only downside of this chef/blogger is she uses top notch fancy pants ingredients that have no made their way to my parochial hamlet as yet. so i had to improvise:

Calabrese Sandwich (recipe adapted from userealbutter.com)

ciabatta roll or bread


mustard (I like whole grain Dijon)

6 slices of Calabrese or other spicy salami

2-3 slices fresh mozzarella packaged havarti

3-4 slices tomato (unlikely!)

pickled red onions

Slice the roll in half. Spread pesto on one half and mustard on the other half. Layer the Calabrese (salami) on half of the roll, then the mozzarella, the tomatoes, and the pickled onions. Top off the sandwich with the remaining half of bread. Slice in half and serve. Makes 1 sandwich.

-instead of special salami like she used, i just got 1/4 lb of big boars head pepperoni from the deli counter (that was enough for about 6 sandwiches).

-instead of fresh mozzarella i used packaged/sliced havarti because its my favorite cheese and mozzarella basically tastes like chewy water to me.

-the pepperoni has a little border/casing around the edges...pull those off first or else it will slow you down as you mow through the sandwich...not good.

so so so YUM! sweet and spicy and creamy and zesty and crunchy. and about 4 minutes to make!

this next one blew my little mind. i am an inept gardener, so i cant grow my own free, regenerating food. well, i couldnt, until this pin.

green onions: after you use bunch, put the white parts in a glass of water in a sunny windowsill. they will regrow!!!

seriously? this is amazing to me. food growing using only water and light. god is sort of the smartest. you just trim the roots and change out the water every few days.

i should have started with more stems, but still, eleven days later i have very (too) tall new onions to cook with! goodbye last minute runs to publix to spend $1.20 on a bundle of these.

one pitfall:

sadness! we use this window as our "order up!" area for when we are eating and cooking outside. a few little green buddies got the marie antoinette treatment.

now hold on to your petticoats, because this next pin if going to melt your face. (though it only got one repin when i first pinned it...sad).

this was the best breakfast we've ever made ourselves and possibly the best one we've ever had period. grilled french toast!

here's my plate! *homer simpson drooling food-lust noise*

it's not just that this french toast is grilled, though that plus grilled breakfast sausage is awesome. the recipe itself is just a really really good one; even if you pan cooked it inside.

our family of 4 (every contributed in tackling this) decimated an entire long baguette's worth of frensh toast and a whole package of breakfast sausage in one sitting! me oh my.

Grilled french toast (adapted from ivillage.com)

-6 eggs
-8 slices slightly stale French bread,1" thick (we used and entire baguette, for far more slices, without increasing any other part of the recipe and it was perfect)
-1 cup buttermilk
-1/2 cup half and half
-2 tablespoons sugar
-1/4 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
-8 breakfast sausage links (or, you know, like 20 )

For Blueberry packet:

-1 cup blueberries (we used frozen ones and thawed them in the microwave)
-1 tablespoon sugar
-1 tablespoon orange juice
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • Heat a gas or charcoal grill to medium. In a mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, buttermilk, sugar, vanilla and orange zest. In a shallow dish large enough to hold them, place bread slices in a single layer. Pour egg mixture over bread slices and turn to coat. Let soak 5 minutes, turning once.

  • Place blueberries on the bottom-right half of a 12x12-inch square of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Top berries with sugar and orange juice. Fold the other half of foil over the blueberries and seal the edges to form a triangular packet.

  • Grill sausages, turning occasionally until thoroughly cooked. Place blueberry packet on a cooler part of the grill and cook until packet is puffed, about 5 minutes. Place bread slices on grill and cook 3 to 4 minutes, or until they have grill marks and no longer stick to the grates. Turn once and cook another 3 minutes

  • Serve French toast with sausages, grilled blueberries and maple syrup*.

  • the only change i made was in making the syrup more special:

    instead of just topping these masterpieces with maple syrup, i made my own using this approximate recipe (hard to mess this up):

    -1 cup maple syrup
    -1/2 cup OJ
    -1/2 cup sugar (i know, i know)
    -some orange zest
    -the excess blueberry juice from your grill packet of berries

    dump them all in a sauce pan and heat on medium until it's simmering and the sugar has melted and the OJ has reduced down to a thick, syrupy consistency.

    turn your family loose on this amazing brunch!

    blogger is being a mr. prickle-pants and not publishing my posts until like 14 hours after i schedule them...so make sure you check out the 3 previous posts for some awesome giveaways you dont want to miss.


    march sponsor & giveaway: crochet melly

    last march i gushed about the products i had purchased from melanie at crochet melly (i bought SO much stuff from her and have loved every single item).

    well her business has really taken off in the 12 months snice then and she is back to give away another of her AMAZING hats and to offer a discount for all of yall.

    i really think this shop is one of the shining stars of etsy. amazing customer service, great prices, fast shipping, and premium handmade quality. did i mention her stuff is gorgeous and adorable? and everything is customizable with any color combo you'd like!

    if it is below 60 degrees, my kids have on a hat from melly.

    here is what i am planning on using my discount towards:

    triple flower beanie. eek! i swoon.

    i might need to have another baby boy for this reason

    or another tiny baby girl bear cub!

    my favorite stuff from melanie are the interchangeable items. you get a headband or hat with a button sewn on and then you get as many interchangeable flowers as you could want! layla has about 12 of these flowers.

    and look at who is the model for the earflap flower beanie!

    i dont know about where you live, but here in ATL it has been freakishly hot, but that is no reason not to stock up on headbands for summertime or plan ahead for adorable warm-cessories for next fall and winter!


    melanie is giving away a free item from her shop to one lucky winner.

    to enter: visit the crochet melly etsy shop and leave a comment here with what you would pick (good luck narrowing it down!)

    additional entries (leave another separate comment for each):

    -heart her etsy shop

    -like her facebook page

    -be a follower here (click "follow" at the tippity top left of this window)

    -tweet or fb this: enter to win a free item from crochet melly http://bit.ly/GUtDIv

    that's a possible FIVE total entries. winner will be picked this thursday morning


    Now through saturday, get 15% off your entire order with code
    GIVEAWAY15 at checkout

    march sponsor & giveaway: poppy chain boutique

    ashley of poppy chain boutique is back and bringing massive quantities of chic handmade jewelry as always.

    here is what i am crushing on in her shop right now:

    hello friendly little owl charm necklace. i shall call you hedwig and the dark lord shall never prevail over you as long as you are nestled near my heart.

    wine lotus earrings. love the new flower shape of these guys, and hello gorgeous wine color!

    marine mum ring. the color, the shape, the band, the name (marine!). it all makes me happy


    ashley is giving away a free pair of earrings of your choice!

    to enter: leave a comment here telling me your weirdest fear/revulsion (mine=wet paper).

    extra entries (leave another separate comment for each one):

    -be a follower here (click "follow" at the tippity top left of this window)

    -tweet/fb this: enter to win a pair of handmade earrings from @ashleykirnan http://bit.ly/GUtLYw

    winner will be picked on thursday morning.


    this week get FREE SHIPPING domestically on your entire order. enter code

    hope lost/found & 20% off my etsy shop

    remember when i raved about our friend ryan kiesshauer's debut album? and how i gave away one of his CD's in my first ever bloggy giveaway?

    well 2 years later, we still listen to and love every track of this CD. ryan wrote every note and every word and it is just mind-blowingly good (especially with his awesome wife bethany singing harmony). if you dont believe me, you can listen to a sample here. ryan is not one of those artists who thinks that because he took guitar for a semester and loves jesus that that means he needs to become a songwriter. yuck. i'm sure jesus appreciates those songs of praise, but i dont. this is well written, well-played music from a seriously talented guy.

    well ryan is selling his album for 50% off. you can now get one of his "hope lost/found" CD's for just $5. that's just 38 cents per track! worth it!!! go buy one NOW in his store.

    as a reward, and to offset this meager investment, i am offering 20% off my entire etsy shop for anyone who purchases a CD from ryan this week. dont be sneaky...i will check and make sure you have already bought a CD. just enter the code KIESS20 at checkout.


    outfitting a change

    as you may have heard about in my reaganing post last week, and in select regional news outlets, i decided to act like a grown up and wear my hair down and dress like a human lady starting in this my 30th year.

    last week i blow dried my hair twice which led to it being worn down all 7 days (with a healthy dose of dry shampoo to get me through that 3rd day before a wash) and i wore outfits 800% more presentable than i usually do on 6 of 7 days last week (i work from home on mondays and will never be impelled to even wear a bra on these days...such is my birthright).

    i made jesse take pictures to document my outfits daily after work. there are only 5 pictures because i did laundry and wore one of these outfits twice. blammo.

    hey, risky business, your fly is open, hotshot.

    you might think this is dressed down and looking slouchier than most of the population, but believe me when i say this moves me up like 3 caste levels from where i usually reside (which hovers just above a hurricane survivor being interviewed on live TV and just below celebrities caught in walk-of-shame photos in tabloids).

    i wouldnt usually bare my ultra white-purple legs this when they have seen nary a photon this season, but i decided to get over my pale-shame. i am skin-cancer free and i sleep with a mega hot man every night, so yeah, i'll just be happy where i am and not bake melanoma into my flesh in the name of impressing my crazy vagina-brain and people who might be turned off by it (none of whom even snuggle me at night).

    getting a few new things from loft instead of on clearance at old navy or target was a little bit more expensive, but i am really seeing it as an investment. by not buying crap clothes that will wear out in a year just because, "hey, this shirt is $6!," and instead putting my money into quality-made pieces that will last for years. the 3 loft things i owned before last weekend, i have had for at least 4 years. the average age of my cheaper finds is about 6 months until they just make me sad and go to goodwill. i am tired of living like that and i see it as crappier stewardship of my meager clothes budget than getting one $40 top a month. (and dont worry, i will continue to shop at both target and old navy, because they are awesome, but i will do it with more intention to longevity and quality).

    so at the end of week one, i declare this experiment a smashing success. i spent approximately 11 extra minutes a day on my appearance and harvested hours worth of self esteem from it. i am truly surprised by how much energy, positive vibes and self-confidence came from taking a tiny bit better care of myself every day. this translated into being a better employee, citizen, parent, wife and --dare i say it--lover. nope, no, i dont dare say that because that word is creepster and eats my soul. (but seriously ladies...).

    fashion: it's not just for the rich, hot or superficial anymore. it's for me!


    i dont get it & friends

    i have noticed that there a few things that almost everyone i know or hear about seems to love. i hear nothing but rave reviews about these things, but i just cant get on board or enjoy them. but because all the other humans seem to rave about these things, i usually give them another try every year or so to see if maybe i was being silly before and i do in fact, love these universal people-pleasers.

    so far, i have not changed my mind once. here's my list:

    -dogs inside my house
    -greek yogurt
    -swimming in the ocean

    this concludes the most riveting blog post you have ever read. next week: free stuff!

    OH! one more fun update. i hung out with my new lady friend last night. this was our 2nd date. we hung out once last week at her house with all of our kids. if youre a mom who's ever tried to converse with another mom while your kids are around, you know that about 82% of a sentence and maybe a stray gerund or prepositional phrase is the best you can hope to spit out before you have to divert your attention to an intolerably dirty foot (judah...kid can stand being dirty/wet), a recurring head injury (layla, falling off of a tiny doll's wagon repeatedly), or the fact that, whoopsie, we are all along in the room all of a sudden which means our 4 kids are on a bender somewhere alone (everyone).

    but last night, i invited her over to our house after all the offspring's bedtimes. jesse was at a ministry function so it was just me and her. as annoying as trying to talk with kids is, it's also provides many handy breaks in and distractions from the potential awkwardness that comes in getting to know someone new. but last night, it was just us. eeps!

    like i normally do because i am a freak, i prepared a list of conversation topics and smooth questions in case the convo petered out. well, she left 3 hours and 15 minutes later and i never had to resort to my lame "friendmaking 101" tricks. i turned nary a trick.

    but before we had even started talk, magic because when she walked in she said she had brought me something. and, yall, she pulled this out of her pocket:

    one perfect, pristine block of sharp cheddar cheese. greater love hath no man...

    and then i offered her some of our leftover amazing publix key lime pie and she said yes and we sat around and ate pie together! i feel like it's not every gal who would just step in off the street and accept my pie! it's also a great sign that she wasnt scared of being poisoned by the crazy internet lady.

    we talked about TV, jesus, science, parenting, hair, money, cleaning and oh so much more. but the cheese and pie where what really told me, in my very own love language, that this friendship is going to work out just fine.

    we exchanged dairy products, so yeah, it's pretty serious.



    these kids. oh they make me happy. they make me crazy in the brain and have made my breast density decrease by a factor of 5, but mostly they just make me happy.

    i love how out of all the kids in the world, i would still pick judah and layla to be mine. obviously if two different sperm had won their races and we had 2 different kids, i wouldnt be sitting here wondering or missing judah and layla because i would have and be happy to be the mom of melkizar and tubal-cain (there are lots of weird sperms names, people. i dont make the rules).

    sure there is something primal and inborn that makes us say, "these are MINE and i love them most," but it's awesome when a moment lines up so nicely that makes you say, "even if these werent mine, i'm pretty sure i would still like them best."

    gah. how could i not?

    i must squeeze him


    you guys, she's kind of a badass.

    where would i be without two-year old stances like this. priceless.

    left: present day. right: 6 months ago. SAME DRESS. holy mess these kids refuse to stay little!!!