Mama Life Hacks {Tip #5}: Sam’s Club Pickup FOR THE WIN!

I think I’ve mentioned before here that, in my opinion, my greatest strength as a mother is my tenacity. My stick-with-it-ness. I’m not naturally super-creative or compassionate or patient or fun when it comes to this whole mothering gig…although I have better days than others, of course, in all of those categories, and I am continually striving–by God’s power–to grow in grace.

But, give me a certain kind of challenge, and, by golly, I will pounce on it, punch it in the face, and take it prisoner (most of the time).

(Now, who wants me to babysit their kids?)

Which means that grocery-shopping with 6 children–while far from my favorite activity ever (walking on hot coals and poking my own eyeball with a plastic fork come to mind as more appealing options offhand)–is something that I do regularly and am not afraid of.

I will even wrangle unsuspecting checkers into taking pictures of me and my motley crew.


Theo–hiding out under the Ergobaby–was exactly one-month-old here. (Insert ALL the crying emojis as I realize just how fast time is flying). (Also, let it be known that we do NOT go to Sam’s Club for one gallon of milk plus a tin of peanuts for Nola to use as a seat; there was another stuffed-to-the-gills basket right behind me).

The thing is, though…give me the choice between A) dragging 6 small humans inside a giant store filled with food (most of which they want but can’t have–cue the 2-year-old meltdown parade) and B) having someone else grocery shop for me…

And I don’t have to think about it.

Not for one hot second.

All of my self-proclaimed tenacity and I-ain’t-skeered-of-grocery-shopping-with-six-kids bravado takes a flying leap out of the nearest window, and I’m all, “Where do I sign?”

If only such a magical service existed.
Oh, but it does.
Say whaaaaat?
Did you know that you can go online at and click on “Services”>”Club pickup,” and then proceed to either use the “easy reorder” button (it tracks your purchases so that the items that you buy often are the first to pop up as options) or the “upload a list” button, and–BOOM–your grocery-shopping is done?
Once you select your items and choose the time you’d like them ready, some glorious little Sam’s Club grocery store fairy waves her silvery wand over the aisles, and–just like that–all of your grocery dreams comes true, packed neatly into a cart just waiting for you to pick it up.
Or something like that.
Regardless of whether fairies or gnomes or plain old Sam’s Club vest-wearing employees are responsible for the wonderfulness that occurs, occur it does. Which is all I care about.
Honestly, I’ve known this for a while now. But I’m a ridiculous creature of habit. So, I continued to haul all of my offspring up and down the aisles over and over for many months even once I had been gifted with this morsel of heavenly wisdom. Just because I plain forgot.
(Don’t be like me).
One day, a few weeks ago, as we were dumping our many, many items onto the belt, a Sam’s Club manager noticed my brood and said, “They’re really cute. But…you know we’ll shop for you, right?”
And, at first I was like, ????? And then, remembrance dawned, and I was like, “OOOOOOoooooh. YES!”
And then I gave her the biggest hug ever (no, I didn’t; but I thought about it).
So, there you have it. My Mama Life Hack this week is the wondrous knowledge that, if you have a Sam’s Club membership–you are now able to shop from the comfort of your own couch. At no extra charge. As Emperor Cuzco would say: “BOOM, baby!”
And, yes, I have actually done it now. And yes, it is just as easy and fantastic as it sounds.
Now, if only they would bring all the groceries out to me and swipe my card through the driver’s window of my van…
A girl can dream.
So, what about it? Did you know this magical service existed? Have you used it? Are there other such services at other stores that I’m unaware of? Do share.
Oh, and don’t forget to share your #mamalifehacks on social media using that handy hashtag. I’ve got several squirreled away to share with you soon, but I’m always on the lookout for more to feature!

I’m rockin’ my Rockin’ Baby Sling {Review and GIVEAWAY for YOU!}

Okay, first of all, let it be known that you guys are THEE best.

I got 475 opinions here on the blog and social media in response to my request for your input about my new glasses. And, while I’m still plowing through them all in search of a consensus, I’m just blown away at how sweet y’all are to take the time to share your thoughts with me about silly things like which frames best fit my face shape. I know I’ll never get to meet most of you, but I still feel like I get to pull up a chair and chat with a bunch of rad girlfriends several times a week. And, let me tell you, you can’t beat that with a rubber-spatula-cum-spanker (click if you want a laugh plus a priceless picture of Evy).

And now onto today’s business…

I’m not the world’s biggest baby-wearer at home. And I’m not talking about my physical stature either. I just don’t do it a ton.

Mostly, that’s because a) my babies tends to be of the non-fussy variety (please don’t e-stone me) and are usually pretty content to be in their swings or bumbo seats near me while I cook/homeschool/blog/whatever and b) I have a lot of helping hands. (I remember wearing Ezra, my firstborn, in his Baby Bjorn throughout many a meal prep, so I’d say the helping hands bit has been the biggest factor in my not baby-wearing at home that much of late)). I mean, seriously, I turned around in the middle of getting dinner ready last night to see Simon changing Theo’s poopy diaper without being asked.

(And then I belted the Hallelujah chorus along with the angel choir that descended through my kitchen ceiling).

But I am so, SO grateful for the ability to wear my babies when they do get cranky or when I’m out and about or if I just feel like snuggling my baby close, hands-free. So, when Rockin’ Baby contacted me about taking one of their slings for a spin AND giving one away to you lovely folks, you better believe I jumped on that one like a duck on a June bug. (Or, I should say, like my 7-year-old on a June bug; he’d beat out a duck any day).

I had never tried a ring-sling before, so I was excited to test something new.

Turns out, me likey.

It took a bit of maneuvering to get the ring to adjust easily at first, but the kind folks at Rockin’ Baby had warned me that there was a bit of a learning curve and that once I had the hang of it, I’d love it.

They were right.


After the initial test, in which I did a lot of shifting and attempts at tightening–only semi-successfully–I tried again the next day and found the process at least twice as simple/intuitive. And every time since, it’s gotten easier and easier to simply slip Theo down inside the pouch and then cinch him up nice and cozy to my chest.

As far as his opinion on the arrangement.


He’s a huge fan. He loves being snuggled up close to me and will happily ride around in the sling while I meal-prep or do chores for as long as I’m willing/able to carry him.

I have yet to find a single carrier that doesn’t produce a burning ice-pick point of pain in my upper right shoulder after about 45 minutes of wear–no matter what its claims for ergonomic correctness or superior weight distribution.


And I’ll be honest–the Rockin’ Baby sling is no exception…although I can carry Theo in it longer than usual without the burning sensation, and it never reaches the heights it does with some other carriers.

But let’s face it: that has pretty much everything to do with the fact that I need to go see a chiropractor and nothing to do with the carriers themselves.

In fact, this sling is so comfortable that I’ve found myself reaching for it more and more recently, even when Theo didn’t necessarily “need” to be carried.


I chose the “You Win Again” reversible sling, and I can honestly say, without reservation, that I was extremely impressed with the sturdiness of the stitching and the quality of the fabric. Not only impressed but surprised. I don’t know exactly what I was expecting, since clearly, I would want a product that held my baby to be well-made and durable, but this sling exceeded even my highest expectations.

I also love that, since Theo is so happy in it, he often slides off into dreamland for a snooze while I’m carrying him. I can then loosen the sling super-easily, which allows me to lay him down still sleeping if necessary.


And you know what else I love? The fact that, for every sling or pouch purchased from Rockin’ Baby, they donate another to a needy mother in Kenya or Haiti and educate her about the importance of its use.

Plus, on a much more frivolous note, Rockin’ Baby has so many fun prints that I had to do a FB poll just to help me decide which one I should choose!


The best part of all is that I’m not that only who gets to benefit from Rockin’ Baby’s generosity. Not only did they provide a sling for me to review, but they’re also giving one away to one of you lucky ducks.

To be entered to win, simply a) comment with a time when baby-wearing saved your bacon (mine would definitely be that time I carried Ezra all over New York City for 9 straight hours; not sure my shoulders have ever been the same, but it sure was convenient!), or, if you’ve never used a baby-carrier,  b) tell me about why you want to start now.

For extra entries, you can like the Rockin’ Baby Facebook Page or share about this giveaway via any form of social media (just be sure to leave me a comment telling me where you shared).

*Entries only open to residents of U.S. and Canada. Giveaway closes Monday, April 20 at 11:59 PM.

In which you help me choose glasses…(again)

This post could also quite easily be titled, “In Which Abbie Practices Her Pursed-Lips-Smile.” But my propensity for smizing is not exactly the main point of this post, so we’ll just stick with the original title, m’kay?

So, 3 years ago, you guys weighed in on which glasses I should buy, using uber-nifty virtual try-on images as your guide.


I did end up buying glasses–one pair, in particular, that I loved and wore all the time. Until a certain precious 18-month-old who shall remain unnamed (but whose name is identical to the abbreviation for a famous city in Louisiana) snapped the ear-piece of said beloved glasses.

Hashtag bummer. I do have another pair, but they pinch my nose (and can’t be adjusted) to the point of headaches. So, suffice it to say that I’ve been wearing my contacts pretty much non-stop for about a year now (because I am a rather blind little bat), and my 32-year-old eyes are tired.

Fast-forward to a week ago when I discovered that world of online glasses shopping has advanced at leaps and bounds to the point that some companies will now send you multiple pairs of frames to try on in person before you decide to buy (with free shipping both directions).


So, I ordered up a grand total of 11 pairs from two different companies, and today I’m showing you the top 4 contenders (all from Warby Parker…not a sponsored post; just thought I’d share).

But, of course, I couldn’t just make a decision. OH no. I had to consult you, my lovely blog-friends.

So, I’m guessing you’ve already figured out how this is going to go.

I’m going to show you the 4 options, and then, you’re going to comment away telling me which one I should choose (and why, if you’re feeling particularly verbose).

Thanks in advance for your help!

Here we go!





{Clearly, I have a thing for tortoise-shell-hued plastic frames, so don’t feel bad if you end up feeling a bit like, “Well, Abbie, 3 of those are the same.” What can I say? At least I’m consistent?}

Mama Life Hacks {Tip #4}: Post-it Notes to Stop Potty Flushes

I honestly have no clue what kind of hits I’m going to get on this post based on random Google searches that correlate with my title results. But I bet I’d get a kick out of them if I bothered to look.

But here’s the deal: even though there’s no NOT ridiculous way to title this particular Mama Life Hack, it’s a legit concern, yo, so we’re going with it!

Last week, I posted this picture to Instagram…


…with a caption thanking Hobby Lobby for having old-school potties–AKA – the ones that don’t flush at random and literally scare the–ahem–you-know-what right out of you, while you’re sitting on them.

As an adult, I’m not a fan of them. But my little girls? They’re T-E-R-R-I-F-I-E-D.

And with the twins pretty much completely potty-trained at 2 1/2 (my earliest successful potty-trainees to date…HUZZAH for peer pressure), I have no interest in introducing anything that might trigger a regression (never mind that they decided to potty-train 1 day after I bought my first mountain of Sam’s Club size 4 diapers in ages. Because irony). (Not that I’m too worried about it at the rate Theo’s growing).

It seems that I’m not the only one with this problem. I got a slew of “AMENS” and also a fair number of suggestions for how to stop the potty monster from roaring while your little darling is astride her perilous perch.

The best one?

Stick a pad of Post-it notes in your purse, and every time you encounter a self-flushing potty, whip one of those bad boys out and place it over the flush-sensor.

Et voila!

no more scary flushes

{Side note: my husband saw this post-it lying around after I took the picture, and was like ?????}

If you’re anything like me, then remembering to put the Post-its in your purse in the first place is your biggest obstacle to executing this ingenious little trick. But never fear! If you forget the first time (or dozen), lots of people reported success with simply hanging a square of toilet paper over the sensor or–in a pinch–employing the somewhat less reliable sister/brother’s hand method.

So, what about y’all? Do you have a kiddo who is/was petrified by the curse of the auto-flush potty? I don’t know of too many kids who love it, but Della is definitely the most afraid of our bunch. Recently, an unfortunately-timed flush sent her flying off the potty mid-pee shrieking in terror. Poor thing (poor mama).

Did you use the Post-it trick? Or just suffer through like I’ve been doing?



The most perfect gift

Happy Monday, friends! I hope you guys had an awesome Easter full of candy and visits with the Easter bunny and egg-dyeing and egg-hunts and baskets brimming with cheapies from the Target Dollar Spot…oh, and Peeps! Can’t forget those little fellas.


{6 out of 8 looking ain’t bad}

I hope you’re still riding your Reese’s sugar high and finding 27 amazing ways to repurpose plastic eggs on Pinterest. I hope…

Waaaaaait a minute.

If you’ve been reading my blog for any amount of time, then you may be feeling a bit punk’d right now. Like I’m trying to pull another April Fool’s fast one on you (oh, and just in case I played it a little TOO cool with that whole blonde hair business, and you’re still not entirely sure what happened…it was 100% a joke. Thanks to my husband’s photoshop skillz).


I mean, I’m guessing you expected me to be all: “Hope you guys fully experienced the sorrow and then the joy of remembering Jesus’ death and resurrection. HE IS RISEN!”

More on that in a minute.

But first, let me share something super-rad: we get to meet Harriet this weekend!


If you recall, our family has sponsored Harriet through an amazing organization called Parental Care Ministries that is local to us and with whom we’ve been involved–through sponsorship, prayer, volunteering, etc.–for over 6 years now. We even sponsored another PCM child–Sarah–for a year through this blog (and then our family took over her sponsorship). We EVEN raised enough money the first year I ever had this little blog to build a new classroom for PCM! Y’all blew my mind with your generosity and support!


After witnessing and loving what this ministry has done to invest in the lives of over 1,000 incredibly deserving children in Uganda, we get the privilege of hosting Harriet and another PCM girl for a few days as they are here for the 3rd annual PCM choir tour.


Last week, we met with the tour coordinator so she could brief us on what to expect and how best to bless Harriet and Gaudy, and, at one point, she leveled her gaze at us and said, “I know this is probably something you’ll want to do, but we’re asking that you refrain from buying the girls any gifts.”

That answered a question that I hadn’t even voiced yet, but, as disappointed as I was (I’d had visions of taking the girls to get outfitted in new everything–complete with peppy background music a la every single “makeover montage” in every single teeny-bopper movie ever made), I understood.

Because here’s the thing–life in Uganda is hard. Not as in: I only get a piece of candy and a pair of cast-off shoes for my birthday hard.

But as in: I eat the same bland, watery gruel for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and I’m not even sure when my birthday is and would never dream of getting any presents for it if I did…hard.

I only eat meat once a year…hard. I walk 5 miles one way for clean water…hard. 


Lori (the trip-coordinator) told us that if you ask the PCM kids what they are most thankful for, most will answer simply: “I’m grateful to be alive.”

And not in the sense of being filled with vigor and exciting prospects but in the not dead kind of way.

Because the specter of death looms very large in their lives from an early age. And tasteless gruel topped with beans 24/7/365 is infinitely preferable to a belly distended with starvation.

Lori emphasized that they weren’t expecting anything from us–were happy simply to get to know us and be included in our daily doings–and that material gifts, however needed or deserved, would cheapen and sully the pure joy they felt in sharing life with us.

They were content with “enough” (oh, what a slippery word we have made it) and would not benefit from being “blessed” with a recipe for discontent upon returning to their humble, simple everyday blessings.

When we asked Lori if there were an activity they would particularly enjoy, she said, “Any time you’re praising Jesus together will be their favorite.”


It was like an ice-pick to my heart.

I’ve had enough contact with these precious children to know that they absolutely radiate love for Jesus with a side of pure, unadulterated joy.

But to be reminded of how He is their everything–because they are completely free from the distractions that all of our “stuff” drags in with it–was more than convicting. It felt like a physical blow.

You see, I had seen pictures of cute little Easter baskets brimming with “stuff” popping up all over Instagram, and I’d been so, so tempted to run to the Dollar Store or Target and fill up a basket for each of my kiddos. So I could witness that shine of joy that new toys and treats always produce (at least temporarily). So I could feel like a super-mom. So I could “bless” my children.

But after talking to Lori, that desire vanished.

And not because Easter baskets are inherently evil or if you did that (or any of the other things in the first paragraph of this post), you’re a bad person/Christian.

But because I, too, want Jesus to be my everything–to be honestly, truly, fully thankful that I’m alive. That He has sustained me. That He is (so much more than) enough. I long for that for my children as well.

Jesus said, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”

Clearly, the problem is not with the gift-giving. That is simply a reflection of a trait our heavenly Father has perfected. But the rub comes in defining the word, “good.”

After being reminded of the simple gratitude and reliance on Jesus that my PCM brothers and sisters in Christ have cultivated, it was plain to me that a basketful of cheap goodies was not going to be “good” for my children. That it would, in fact, detract from their (and my) already distracted focus on what Easter offers us: the chance to remember the precious sacrifice that Jesus made for us and the wonder of the fact that the grave could not contain Him.

Harriet and her friends understand, so much better than I–with my petty complaints about insufficient hot water and my discarded pizza crusts–that  “every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.”

They grasp, better than any of us who live in the self-indulgent world of drive-thru restaurants, Bath and Bodyworks shower gel, and the “need” to change our clothes with each season’s new trend, that the most perfect gift of all can be a plate full of warm food–no matter how bland–and a thankful heart.


Oh, that I would grasp even 1/10 of the same.

{Clearly, as you might be able to tell from these pictures, we didn’t completely forego all-things-egg; we attended our neighbor’s annual Easter egg hunt after church on Sunday–see last year’s recap here–and the kids had so. much. fun. Our neighbors are precious and ridiculously generous, and it is always a privilege to share this fun tradition with them}

Keep Collective

Well, after all your feedback on yesterday’s post, I really felt like the blonde wasn’t the best representation of me. Good thing my stylist had YET ANOTHER last minute cancellation and could get me in to literally take me back to my roots in no time flat.


She did quite the color-matching job to the original, huh? ;)

ANYhoo, enough about my hair. Let’s talk about my bracelet instead, K?

Um, bracelet, Abbie?

Oh, hey, this one.


When Amanda, a designer with Keep Collective, contacted me about choosing a custom piece, I had so much fun toodling around the site and deciding what I wanted my jewelry to “say.”

If you’re not familiar with Keep Collective, they’re a really fun company that lets you customize necklaces, watches, and–my favorite–bracelets to include all kinds of charms, stones, letters, numbers…anything that might be meaningful enough to you to wear on your body.

I’m not a big charm bracelet kind of girl. But I do love me some leather. And I might have mentioned that I love my husband once or twice on this here blog. And I have, in fact, combined those two loves once before–about 11 years ago in Italy on a trip my mom and I took together before Shaun and I were married. I stumbled upon this little booth that let you write whatever you wanted on a leather bracelet with a soldering iron.

And this is what I wrote.


11 years later, it’s truer than ever, so I figured it was time for a more grown-up of version of my leather love declaration.

So, I chose the initials of our nicknames, this pretty green quartz stone, and a little plaque with the words, “birds of a feather”–all displayed on a reversible, double-wrapped genuine leather band.


I didn’t quite know how my choices would turn out.

But when my bracelet came in the mail, and I opened the box, I squealed a little. It was even better in person than it had looked online and turned out exactly like I hoped it would. Shaun even commented on how cool he thought it was. (And when your husband notices your jewelry, you know you have a winner). I’ve worn it on date nights and to church so far, and I love the bit of shimmer it adds without being over-the-top. But mostly, I love what it says. In fact, it just occurred to me that both my old and my new bracelet would pair really well together. Double the schmoopiness! Score!

Edit: I liked this idea so much, that I did double up on my bracelets today on a round of running errands. Can I just say that I highly recommend wearing something that literally declares your love for your husband in words right there on your wrist as a constant reminder?

leather bracelets

Honestly, as much fun as I had designing my own, I can also think of pieces that I would get a kick out of making for people I know. Especially with Mother’s Day and graduations looming (how, oh, how are we that far along in the year already?). How fun would be to give Mom or your favorite high school grad something pretty and meaningful with important birthstones or her favorite quote?

If you’re interested in creating a piece of your own, be sure to contact Amanda. She was really fun/easy to work with, and I know she’d love to hear from you.

What about you guys? Do you have a particularly meaningful piece of jewelry that goes way back? I’m not a very sentimental person, but if I have anything to say about it, both of my leather love bracelets are staying with me for the long haul.

Welp, I got the itch…

Okay, so you know how I mentioned on Monday that the next time I got the itch to do something different with my hair, I might go blonde.



The idea just kept, ahem, growing on me, and when I texted my hairstylist on a whim, and she had a cancellation, I took it as a sign.

2 hours + I’m pretty sure like a gallon of bleach later…I’m a BLONDE! (I think those caps are deserved; it’s really bright….and quite a bit brassier than I was expecting, but Hollie said that can happen when you go from really dark to really light and that we can do something to fix it if it doesn’t calm down on its own…I believe she said something about toners?).

I honestly don’t know what I think about it yet. It feels (and looks) a little bit like straw, and I definitely feel like it’s going to be a bit before I can style it like I’m used to. BUT. It’s something different.

And sometimes, that’s really all you need. Ya feel me?

More pics to come when I feel a little more “me” again.

I just thought I’d let you know that I got a “wild hair” (there she goes again with the puns) or 100,000.

So, what do you think? Worth the risk? Too much? Be gentle, please! :)

Making the Cut

I don’t know why I’m so drawn to corny puns in titles, but…I am. My apologies.

But before we get to the subject of my titular corniness…

leigh anne

You are the winner of our Jamberry goodies from last week’s giveaway! I’m not gonna lie. I got really excited when I saw her name pop up as the winner. Leigh Anne is one of my most faithful reader-friends since almost the very beginning of this here little blog, a mama to four littles, and SUCH a sweetheart. We live in the same state but still about 10 hours apart (sigh…Texas), but she has family near me, and I am determined that we get together for a coffee (hot chocolate for me) date the next time she comes for a visit. (You hear that, Leigh Anne??). Anyhoo, she totally deserves a pampering treat, so I’m glad she won!

And now, back to our regularly scheduled program.

About a week and 1/2 ago, I got my first haircut in, oh, 5 months. When my hair was long, I would often go 8-10 months without even a trim, but since whacking it off about 18 months ago, 2-3 months is the longest I’d made it between cuts. But with holiday craziness and Theo’s birth, I just hadn’t made it back for quite a while, and things were getting a bit, um, hairy (oy, with the bad jokes, already, Abbie!).

Here was the situation before my trim.


Scraggly ends. Poofy on top because it hadn’t been thinned out in forever. Grown-out, limp bangs.

Definitely in need of a tune-up.

I’ve decided to grow out my hair, and with the help the It Works Hair Skin and Nails I’ve been taking, it’s coming along, so I didn’t want to take any length off. Just some weight.

Then again, I did feel like a change.

So, after a fair bit of trimming and a liberal use of thinning shears, there was a nice little mountain of fuzzies on the ground.


It’s hard to have the right perspective just from the photo, but that is a LOT of hair. Which is kind of nuts considering that I lost almost no length.

So, what was this change that I wanted?



This picture makes me laugh. I kept joking with my friend/hairstylist, Hollie, that I needed to caption this one: “I asked her to do this to me.”

I mean, seriously, that right there is the perfect combo of poodle + “Working Girl” hair.


But less than 24 hours later, after a good wash and a bit of tweaking, it had calmed down a fair bit.


And then, after yet a few more days for it to completely come of out shock and the first time I actually styled it like I normally would (plus bangs-straightening, of course…follow that link to see all of the products I use), we had this.


Because I know you were dying to see not one but four of my goofy expressions. But Ezra was my photographer, and he was really proud of his work (which I promised I would show off adequately here).

Of course, those are mildly blurry phone shots, but he did manage this crystal-clear “real camera” shot too.

new profile

This one too. I look ridiculously smug. But it does show you a bit of the side-view.


ANYhoo, you may now consider yourself fully updated on my most recent follicular adventures.

I honestly miss my super-easy, funky, short hair, but at least I have the bangs to satisfy my urge for something different every once in a while. Who knows? Maybe next time I get the itch, I’ll go blonde!

Anybody else changed up their hair recently? I wanna see!

What’s the most drastic thing you’ve ever done to your hair? Mine would probably have to be that time I cut mine down to 2 inches or less all over my head (not Shaun’s favorite). (Although…that bowl-cut when I was 8, while not “drastic,” was definitely “dreadful”).

It’s Fri-YAY! Let’s eat some carrot cake…

So, I had a #Mamalifehack all lined up to show you today, but after a week without Shaun here (not a bad week at all…just, you know, a WEEK), I thought that perhaps the best Mama-tip I could share today might be this one.


And that would be…when you’ve had “a week,” allow yourself a slice of THEE best carrot cake you will ever taste.

{I know it looks like chocolate cake, but it isn’t; that’s just what happens when you take your pictures with the last slivers of the day’s light}

I have posted about it at least twice before (and every single time I’ve made it for any event, people have asked for the recipe). But I made it again yesterday as a bribe reward for the kids being suuuuper helpful with chores (oh, and because…cake), and it was so amazingly moist and melt-in-your-mouth-yummy that I just had to share again. I did.

A couple of tips:

1. Pay NO mind whatsoever to the bake time. I have no idea why it suggests 35 minutes for a three layer cake, but mine took 20 on the dot (and I’d say my oven cooks pretty accurately), and if I’d cooked it a couple of minutes longer, it would have been too dry.

2. If you like nuts at all, DO add some chopped up pecans to the batter. OH. MY. It adds so much depth to the flavor and texture.

3. This recipe calls for 1 cup and 1/2 of vegetable oil (!!!), so I like to make it a teeeensy bit healthier by turning 1/2 a cup of that into apple sauce. It makes everything even moister without adding unnecessary oil. (I’ve done it with a cup of apple sauce too, and it was still great).

4. If you don’t have an awesome cream cheese icing recipe, you can try mine (which is more of a “recipe” than a recipe, if you know what I’m sayin’):

  • 8 oz. (FULL FAT) cream cheese (slightly softened)
  • 1/2 stick of butter (slightly softened)
  • 2-3 tbs. of milk
  • 32 oz. of good quality powdered sugar (I don’t care about name brand stuff, but, trust me, in this case, it makes a difference)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Whip your softened cream cheese + butter until creamy, then add the powdered sugar a cup at a time until it begins to take on a frosting texture. When it gets too thick to spread, add the milk + vanilla. Keep adding powdered sugar until you have thick, creamy frosting that holds its shape but still spreads easily. It may not take the entire 32 oz. bag, but it’s better to err on the side of too much rather than too little powdered sugar because runny cream cheese frosting is just a bummer.

So, there you have it. Something to put even more YAY in your Friday. I’m off to have a piece of cake for breakfast. (I tell myself this is because I’m teaching BODYCOMBAT later, but let’s be real: I would have eaten it anyway).

Okay, so spill: what do you do to make “a week” better?

A Jamberry Jamboree (+ a Giveaway for YOU!)

It’s always fun when blogging buddies go way back as real-life buddies too, which is exactly the case with my friend, Kelli, from Eat Pray Read Love. She and I grew up in the same small East Texas town, and it was really fun to reconnect over blogging years later and then over our shared love of scoring cheap deals (she’s great at money-saving tips and tricks and has tons of ideas on her blog), BODYCOMBAT, and small humans (she has four of her own).


{Here she is with her pastor-hubby}

So, when she reached out and asked if I’d like to give Jamberry Nails a try, I bit. Hard. I mean, I’ve been pretty open here about my less-than-stellar nails. Also, my polish addiction. And while I can see a big difference in the appearance/health of my nails when I use It Works Hair Skin and Nails (my hair stylist told me the other day that my nails were so shiny, they looked buffed), I’m never going to have diamond-hard nails with lovely white tips. Which is fine. I wouldn’t have a clue what to do with them anyway.

But I still like to keep them looking decent, which is why I try to apply a quick coat of paint every so often. Problem is, between washing dishes and wiping behinds and sudsing up small bodies at bath time, the paint usually only lasts a day…two, if I’m lucky.

Which is why I was especially intrigued–not only by all the cute patterns that Jamberry offers–but by the claims that their wraps stay put for two weeks +.


I had a hard time believing it, but people I trusted (Kelli among them) were raving about these suckers.

So, I chose a fun, funky pattern called Birds of a Feather, and Kelli kindly popped them in the mail for me.

When they arrived, I carefully read through the included instructions and then started applying them…while my girls and I watched Young Victoria (we’ve been on a Jane Austen + period movie kick lately).

Honestly, I felt a bit unsure that I was doing it right and super-awkward. But I didn’t let that deter me. I had fully expected a learning curve. I also expected the process to be slow. I tend to be painfully methodical the first time I do anything, so when I finally finished my left hand after about 40 minutes of stop-start wrapping, I decided to call it good for the moment. Or rather I had to decide that or run out of time to get my children ready for the gym.

Here’s what I had at that point.



I walked around with only my left hand done for…10 days. Ridiculous, I know. But the good news is that–even though my wraps had numerous little imperfections in the seal, due to my novice application–those babies hung in there for 10 days!

Of course, the second I posted the above pic to FB, I got a deluge of advice from Jamberry lovers about the best application process.

One particular term kept popping up, and it was intriguing enough that I tracked down this video of “the baggie method,” on Youtube. (Seriously. If you’re a Jamberry user and haven’t watched this yet, DO IT! So helpful).

People, if only I had done this the first time. I mean, yes, the instructions that come with the product are clear and good enough (potentially), but the whole stretching thing the lady in the video describes along with her method of simply clipping the ends instead of filing them…game-changers.


{Ezra took this pic. Impressive, right?}

My second application took about 50 minutes total (still not fast, but I was going step by step through the process of the video, so it was kind of like starting over), and, whereas last time, my feelings at the end were, Maaaaaaybe I did that sort of right?…this time I feel confident that my jams will at least match the record set by their poorly applied predecessors. And I could feel myself getting faster and faster the more than my muscle memory absorbed the process.


(Couldn’t resist including the slightly creepy, blurry Evy-head in the background :) )

ANYhoo, here’s the short list of what I like about my wraps:

  • They stay on forever. Seriously. 10 + days is an eternity for your nails to look decent.
  • They look fabulous on short nails. I keep cutting mine down, down, down to avoid the inevitable peeling I always experience at the tips, and even though it didn’t even seem like there was that much for the wraps to adhere to on some nails, they immediately made my stubby nails look pretty.
  • They come in pretty much an endless array of colors + patterns.
  • Each set gives you enough wraps to do your full nails twice + a pedicure (you’d have to do some trimming, but it’s not very hard).

As far as cons:

  • The time it takes to apply them is really my only complaint. But after only two applications, I can tell that I’m already getting a lot faster and more confident with the process, and I can only see that improving over time and with repetition. And plus, even if you wear them daily, if you get a good seal, you shouldn’t have to put them on again for 2 weeks. (TWO!)

I’m already dreaming up the next pattern + color combo I’d like. Here are some of my faves.

jamberry collage

Also, ALSO, Kelli is being kind enough to give away a single sheet of Jamberry Nail Wraps (you’ll have your choice of several options), a file, and an orange stick to one lucky gal!


All you have to do to be entered is answering the following question using the options I’ve given you below.

Have you ever tried Jamberry Nail Wraps?

A) No, but I’d love to get my hands on some (hardy-har…punny)

B) Yes, but I’d love to get my hands on more

C) No, but my interest ends with the giveaway

D) Yes, but my interest ends with the giveaway

If you answer A or B, then Kelli will follow up with you about getting some Jamberry for yourself!

Also, also, ALSO (forget useful terms like “P.S.”), Kelli and I are hosting an online Jamberry party. Which is basically my greedy little way of saying, if you are intrigued by the wraps and want to try/buy for yourself, then would you pretty please do it at my party? (I know, I know. What an opportunist).

But seriously, no hard feelings if you don’t. I’m a fan either way.