nat's having a baby!

One year ago yesterday, I was a little teary eyed, wearing a long blue dress, trying not to lock my knees, and watching Nat walk down the aisle to become an Arant. This officially feels like it was four days ago.

Saturday we threw her a baby shower. Time flies, man!

Nat is our token Baton Rouge girl. What's great about this is that, over the years, we've gotten the opportunity to become honorary members of the Sutton clan. Or at least I've decided I am whether they claim me or not. Meredith and myself were able to host Nat's shower along with her sister and two of her wonderful aunts at Aunt Mitzi's beautiful garden district home. It's my dream home, and I think I'm going to move in next week.

Did I mention that the weather could not have been more perfect? We snagged one of the 3.7 Louisiana Spring days.

We went with the baby animal theme since Amanda found these cute invitations. And, come on, who doesn't love baby animals? You don't? Did you know that you don't have a soul? I'm kind of kidding. Actually I'm kind of not.

Mere made the diaper cake, and I tried my hand at flower arranging. This could potentially be a new addiction. Soon we'll need a flower category in our budget. We could totally steal from groceries, right? Or maybe health care. Toiletries?

The menu: coconut bird nest cupcakes, chocolate monkey and flower cupcakes, individual cheese grits with sundried tomatoes, mini quiches, fresh veggies, chocolate covered strawberries, dainty chicken salads, fruit salad, fresh orange juice, and coffee punch. You know - all the good stuff.

Along with all the great food, we had a great turn out resulting in lots of squishy and soft and adorable baby gifts. I was so happy for Nat!

I am certainly shower-game-weary, but baby shower bingo was such a hit. A shocking hit. People wanted those perfectly-matching monkey Scentportable, y'all!

It couldn't have gone more wonderful - exactly what I wanted for our little mama-to-be. The best part of the shower? Sitting around afterward, reminiscing about what a success it was, and finishing off the rest of the shower food. All of it.


DIYable: mini chalkboards

Happy Monday, y'all! I'm happy to report that there is sunshine in the forecast for each and every day this week. Small blessings!

This weekend was full of girlfriends and teeny tiny baby clothes and daisies and cupcakes. Yes, it was as great as it sounds. Friday night, I ate dinner with these ladies. I had every intention of not staying long because of the cupcakes that needed baking and the flowers that needed arranging for the shower the next morning. But I couldn't. We ate and talked and ate and talked. On the menu: Mere's pork chops, good bread, salad with strawberries, drunken goat cheese, chocolate, and change. All things good for the soul.

Before I go on and on and on about how fab-u-lous the shower was, here is a little DIY. I was really wanting these for future entertaining. But in the interest of time and the budget and in the spirit of repurposing, I decided my muscle man and I could make them out of pallet wood and chalkboard paint.

I wanted to make twelve, so I chose three of the pallet slats that were closest to the same size. Because of holes and metal scraps, you won't be able to use the entire slat - so keep that in mind.

It would certainly have been easier to use a circular saw, but poor D has no place to use it in apartment life. Next year, maybe! But they are totally handsaw-able. He cut them every 2 1/2 inches.

Seeing as how I was born unorganized, I couldn't find my package of sand paper. Nail files will suffice. I'm not kidding. Sand/file down the rough edges and the entire side that you plan to paint.

I wanted the chalkboard paint to be in a shape something other than just rectangular, so I hand sketched them onto each block. I'm totally OK with each of them looking a little imperfect. But, if you are not, stencils would work great for you.

Then paint and let dry and paint again and let dry again. I believe the chalkboard paint instructions tell you to lightly sand in between the two coats.

And then...

Free for me! I do plan to get a liquid chalk pen that will look nicer on the blocks.


looking forward to...

...no longer feeling the sting of the jalapeno juice that found its way to both of my eyeballs at 6:30 this morning. I did find out that I'm not so good at that whole "flush eyes with water" emergency technique. Wet hair, wet clothes, wet bathroom.

...using my DIY-ed mini chalkboards - more on that later!

...and using them for NATALIE'S BABY SHOWER. I'm so stinking harharradiharrattitatat excited! Ladies, brunch, a celebration, and a very pregnant dear friend - what more could you want, people?!

...making my first coconut cupcakes [in the form of birds nests]. Yum-O! The eggs: this goodness.

...the season for these beauties. I. Can. Hardly. Breath.

...infusing the air in our apartment with some smell-goods thanks to this how-to

...berry season! [mmhmm, yes, yes, and amen]

...rent house shopping via the world wide web. Ohmygoshisthisreallyhappening?

...seeing Columbia in real life. In about a month [just a weekend trip]. For the first time ever. Except for, of course, all my Google Map street view scootin'.

...the possibility of getting a dog. I could cry. 

...stealing D's newest book order. His name is Dustin, and he is addicted to Amazon Books. 

...possibly considering reading the plot line of The Hunger Games so that I can function in my own society! Hooray! But seriously, could someone fill us in? I'm sure they are great - they've just never found their way to our bookshelves. 

...experiencing less of this:

...and more of this[!!!]:

Hope there is some sunshine and blue skies in your area today. Happy weekend, y'all!



thanks to D

This post's purpose is not to fool you into thinking I have the perfect husband or that we have the perfect marriage. We are two incredibly imperfect people.

This post's purpose is not foster any form of comparison. Every relationship is different, and all of them have mountains as well as valleys. And we so stink at being anything good sometimes.

This post's purpose is to thank D and to thank him publicly. After celebrating so many weddings and other exciting milestones, I've learned the importance of saying something. And, even more so, saying it in front of others as a blessing. Not to say that private blessings are insignificant, but we'll save whispering those sweet nothings for another time, ok? Ok. 

Last week was a bad week, and I don't normally have bad weeks. But last week was one if I've ever lived it. The Lord using D in my life was my saving grace - of that I am sure.

Thank you to D for...

  • Not letting the fact that I cried more days last week than not freak you out. 
  • Your calming spirit.
  • Not saying, "well, are you not going to ask me about my day?!" when I was too wrapped up in my own dramas.
  • Tirelessly encouraging me to spend time in the Word even when I had sleepy, heavy eyes. 
  • Being totally fine with the fact that I blew your perfectly balanced budget on comfort food in the form of frozen yogurt. 
  • Staying with me and the rest of two-years-olds after your Pastor Search Team meeting which you totally didn't sign up for.
  • Not being discouraged by my totally downer of a self. Or at least not showing it. 
  • Being awesome at doing the dishes. 
  • Saving me a part of your St. Patty's Day cupcake even though I had devoured my own a couple days earlier.
  • Your example of diligence and perseverance in the face of senior design projects, family responsibilities, and church duties.
  • Praying for me. 

 Praise God for using your encouragement and answering your prayers.

This week, I pray...

  • That the Lord will bless you and keep you, that He will make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you (Numbers 6:24-25). 
  • That you will be strengthened by grace that is Christ (2 Timothy 2:1). 
  • That you would be strong, courageous, unafraid, and encouraged (Joshua 1:9). 
  • That you would continue to pursue graciousness, compassion, and righteousness (Psalm 112:4). 
  • That you would be filled with the knowledge of His will (Colossians 1:9).
  • That blessings would come from hearing the Word of God and obeying it (Luke 11:28).
  •  That the Lord would keep you from harm (Psalm 121:7).
  • That the Lord would fill me with His grace in order to be able to love you better, to put you before myself, and to bless each of your days.


have a relaxing weekend

This week has been a little nuts-o here at the ol' capitol. When will it end, you ask? June.

I have never been so happy to see Friday. And Saturday too. Hellooooo Saturday.

Things I'm looking forward to this weekend:

Not spending a solid 16 hours at work in one day.

Date night with D - it's my turn to plan the surprise this week!

Sporting my new pink khakis.

DIY-ing the heck out of some old pallet wood and chalkboard paint to make myself some of these for future showers and parties.

Dreaming up some bridal and baby shower wreaths. How pretty would these felted billy balls and this ribbon be?

Giving our apartment a little attention for the first time this week with homemade tub scrub [thanks Martha!].

And giving my hands a little attention as well. No more scaly hand shakes for you!

Last but not least and since I like to claim my Irish heritage [at least] once a year [hello - MCMAHONE], I might just be making this yummy sounding bread. Though I don't know if I'll like it. It's really more in the spirit of the holiday! So maybe I'll just make green pancakes.

Happy end of the week to ya!


wedding wednesday: 5 and 5

After a little post-wedding processing, [yes, I processed for eight months], I bring you the five things I'd do differently and five things I'd never change about our our wedding day.

1) While I was engaged and working in the Gov's press office, I would spend a lot of my free time thinking about what I wanted to say to my family, bridesmaids, and hostesses at my bridesmaids luncheon after I gave them their gifts. I knew that there would not be another time that I'd have all of those ladies in one place. So, I felt super prepared. And then, come wedding weekend, there were some moments that really stuck out to me earlier in the weekend that I wanted to mention that morning. So I really ended up being a blabbering and blubbering bride. Hopefully they felt loved.

2) I would have someone there telling the photographer what picture ideas I really wanted to make happen. Neither of us remembered in the hustle and bustle of the afternoon. Thankfully D remembered the either side of the door shot!

3) I'd take more time on the DJ or band list. Just...be specific.

4) I'd pack lighter for the wedding day. You should have seen the amount of things Dustin and his groomsmen were trying to get into our getaway car while be pounded with bird seed. I'd suggest duplicates of toiletries so that you can pack most of your goods in your honeymoon bags and leave the others behind.

5) I'd wear my veil with my runaway dress. My sister suggested it while I was changing, but I didn't do it. How cute would of those pictures been?

1) Not setting an alarm. Have your mom or sister or friend wake you up. No one wants to start the best day of their lives with an annoying alarm!

2) I don't regret not doing a first look. Walking down the aisle and seeing D for the first time was the most exciting moment of my life. I highly suggest it.

3) I stopped by our reception location after the bridesmaid lunch while on the way to the church. I got to see it fully decorated - a vision me and my mom and sister had been dreaming up for the last eight months. That in itself was really exciting, and it put my little planning mind at ease. Not to be cheesy (impossible), it was kind of magical. Thanks for sharing that with me, Katie!

4) If we splurged on anything - it was flowers. Flowers are our thing, and I go weak at the knees when I look at photos and see how wonderfully they turned out. Find what aspect of planning is your "thing" and splurge. Even if just a little.

5) Dance. Dance as much as you want. Dance with your friends, with your family, with your pastor and his wife. I have awesome parents who were wonderful hosts. So I just DANCED. Oh - and eat too. Definitely eat!

What would you do different? What would you never change?


for good

Let me paint this picture for you.

Howling wind, blowing rain, very close lightening and thunder.

A dress made out of knit jersey (let's just say it blows in the wind), new heels that are cutting into my feet, a pitiful umbrella, an arm full of very necessary papers.

Now combine those two things, and you'll find me trying to get back to my office yesterday after a meeting. Oh, and be sure to add an inside-out umbrella, wet hair, and a solid limp thanks to my terrible shoes.

Session will certainly be more than I thought. More time, more to learn, more energy. Early morning and late nights and meetings that I never thought I'd be sitting in. And when I'm sitting in those meetings, I think, "I just want to be a florist!" I have no answer for you why God has this for me during this soon-to-end season of my life. But, with sore feet and puffy eyes, I'll try to remember that He has a plan and that His plan is for my good. Might not be comfy and convenient - but good. And as simple as that concept seems, it was really all there was to be said at the end of last night, a bad night. And I'm glad D reminded me of that in my stubbornness.

So here's to new hours and meetings and finding comfy high heels. And forgiveness if I'm a terrible blogger. 


nervous and exhausted

Today, out come the black clothes, blazers and heels as the Louisiana Legislature convenes the 2012 Legislative Session. They will stand in stark contrast to my weekend filled with dust rags, hardback books, coral pants, long talks with a [very pregnant] best friend, lemonade, and sippy cups.

I'll be honest - I'm nervous. As a committee watcher, I'll be meeting with other Governor's Office staff on the days that the specific committees I'll be watching meet. And several other details that I need not bore you with. As a student worker, I laid low with only having to welcome guests and answer phones. Busy - yes. Pressure - not much. Chip, the BEST BOSS EVER, said he'd show this youngin the ropes.

Session does bring with it a little excitement. The excitement wears off, of course. But the romantic inside of me can't help but appreciate the seersucker suits of deep south politicians, the sound of the hustle on the Capitol's marble floors, and the idea that I could be experiencing the leaders make historical impacts on our state. But I am nervous.

Why exhausted? Stinking daylight savings time completely rocks my world. And because of this:

My yesterday: extended session in the nursery, babysitting three adorable siblings, and keeping the nursery again during equipping classes. Back to back to back. Moms - you are my hero.

Happy Monday to you!


confessions of a morning shower-er

The fact that I've always had to shower in the morning made me feel like this:

[doesn't this make your heart feel like someone is tap dancing on it?!]

I completely accepted the fact that I always had to wash my hair in the morning. And, on top of that, I always had to wash my hair. Period. With Legislative Session beginning on Monday, being late and tired and frizzy and half make up-ed is not an option.


[Yes, there is a but. Which means there is hope for all you fellow morning shower-ers.]

...I've found some loopholes. They have brought the opportunity to shower at night, go to bed with wet hair, and have much more morning time. And I love morning time.

Now I haven't tried all of these ideas, but I certainly plan to! Ch-ch-check 'em out. And let me know if any of them completely change your life.

Sweet old fashion rag curls.

And curls with a headband [I love her accent!].

Or maybe even some knots.

A pretty braid I'm dying to try [grow, hair, grow!].

And another braided up-do that is perfectly classy.

A DIY for the ever-coveted Bumble and Bumble Surf Spray.

Two products that choose to not live without.

A recipe for make your own make up remover. 

And quick fixes for morning makeup.

Happy weekend! I'll be doing some shower prep [the baby and bridal kind], spending time with a friend who I haven't seen since 2011, and researching House committees. Yahoo!


balsamic brown butter, brussel sprouts, and breasts

Chicken breasts, that is. Come on - it was a B theme!

So this Jenkins family likes brussel sprouts. Who the heck knew?! We don't just tolerate them - we enjoy them. Roasted, especially. Nowadays, I cook them because I want them. Not because I feel like I need a few more greenery points to balance out the amount of carbs I choose to must consume.

I normally roast them at 400 degrees for thirty minutes [mixing a couple times] with two sliced garlic cloves and tossed with salt, pepper, and olive oil. If you want them even more crisp and nutty, longer won't hurt them. Well, if you burn them it will. You know what I mean.

I have experiments that flop [like my disgusting basil chicken salad - I still don't know what happened], and I have some that make me do that little dance of taste bud joy. Monday night was the latter.

I had every intention of using gnocchi for this recipe, but the 18 different stores I visited didn't have any. Next time - I'll just make my own. Take THAT grocery stores. Instead I used packaged three-cheese tortellini. And, I've got to say, I'm really really glad I did.

To begin, cook pasta according to directions until al dente. I was so focused on my sauce that my poor little guys cooked longer than directed. Keep them in mind.

In a saucepan, brown three tablespoons of [good and real] butter, two sliced or chopped garlic cloves, and a fourth of a cup of pine nuts over medium heat. I had never really browned butter on purpose before, so I was a little...nervous. Or obsessive.

I think it should take about three minutes. I don't really know because the butter would get a little brown, I'd take it off the heat, and I'd then decide it needed more time. I'd be afraid I was about to burn it and start the vicious cycle all over again. Just leave it on the heat, keep stirring, and remove it from the heat after all the foam has subsided. I probably should have gone a little longer. Learning!

At this point, everything inside of you will want to forget that you have people to feed, and you'll be tempted to take your sauce pan, pull up a chair, and spoon feed yourself every last bite. This is normal.

Off of the heat, I added one tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and watched in amazement of the fancy reaction it had. Stir well, but don't sniff too hard. It'll singe your nose hairs. That's how you know its gooood

Drain your pasta, add it to the sauce pan, and toss.

Serve immediately. We enjoyed it with our roasted brussel sprouts and grilled chicken [with this marinade].

I took the leftovers to work the next day - that was a huge success. Both having leftovers that reheat well and simply just having leftovers. Hooray for self control!



"Spring is nature's way of saying, 'Let's party!'" - Robin Williams

"No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn." - Hal Borland

"In the Spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt." - Margaret Atwood

Spring has surely sprung in Louisiana.

See? Some years, the azaleas hang on until around Easter. This year they're...eerr...a little early. Like a MONTH. But I'm not complaining. These pink beauties brought with them the most incredible weather which causes me to drag myself [kicking and screaming on the inside] into my windowless office. So you know where to find me on my lunch break. I call these "sunroof days." Louisiana averages about 4.5 per year. We'll take what we can get!

I greet Spring 2012 with some anticipation. A best friend becoming a mother, D graduating, tackling the second half of the first year of marriage, moving. And all the changes and experiences and lessons that come with those circumstances. Just as Winter makes me want to curl up and slow down and reflect, Spring causes me to increase my pace, make changes, and embrace newness.

And who couldn't love Spring? I say this until we're back up into the 90 degree weather. Then I'll complain about my hair falling as soon as I step outside or sweating from my car to the office. But, until then, let's bask in all the freshness Spring brings our flannel-and-firewood-filled eyes.



One hundred and sixty days is a long time for us. It had been exactly that long since we watch Abs drive away with her brand new husband and exactly that long since the four of us had been together. It had been a long time.

You know that it's been a long time when there is lots of hugging and squeezing going on in the restaurant parking lot. And when we make quite the reunion scene inside. Sorry, Miss Hostess. We see our friend, and we are sprinting towards her! You know it's been a long time when visiting the moms' houses calls for mini tours to see what has changed about our second-homes. And when you notice something familiar [like late night coffee at Ashley's or mini pretzels at Abs'], somehow you all comment on it [in unison] as to bring comfort to the situation, to remind one another of your history - a history that has allowed you to learn the intimate details of each others' lives.

Along with this well-loved and familiar friendship was a newness this trip: husbands. "Number Five and  Number Six," as we lovingly call them. I think maybe even "brothers" on occasion. Great sports, they are, as we soak up some girl talk and relive tennis team stories and take unhealthy amounts of pictures. D is totally accustom to the fact that we'll probably need to carry in a fistful of my hanging clothes to share with Ash. I wouldn't have it any other way, and I'm thankful for his understanding. Or just accepting something he doesn't understand. Guys don't share clothes - isn't that weird?

Our weekend was full of...
Late dinner and even later coffee at the Wilsons where we talked and laughed until we couldn't keep our eyes open any longer.
A carb-filled, girls-only breakfast that lasted until the afternoon.
Checking out the going-out-of-business Blockbuster/paying homage to the place we visited nearly every night the summer after high school.
A little vintage and baby gift shopping with Mom.
Biting the bullet and spending the rest of my wedding credit on this beauty.
Visiting with my wonderfully spunky grandparents.
Meeting the ever-so-perfect Grant Willson Lane and seeing Aunt Abby and Yaya in action.
Daddy's delicious fish fry which he serves out of brown paper bags.
D's impressive clay shooting [who knew?!].
More friend time around the Hillside kitchen table.
Finishing the night off with a little Wii Just Dance with D and my parents: hi-lar-i-ous!

While driving back to Baton Rouge in the beautiful Louisiana Spring weather, I was glad. Glad to have had time to lay around and talk to Mom on her unbelievably comfortable bed. Glad that the Lord graciously slowed down the clock hands to allow time to spend time with everyone we hoped to see. Glad for a rare, strong friendship with three women who I love so deeply.

As we all venture off to [what seems like] our four corners of the Earth, I will remember this weekend and have confidence in our friendship's ability to survive and thrive. I, loving to talk about feeeelings, had thought I might bring up the changes we've experienced in the last six months and those that lie ahead. As lifestyles continue to look different and distances steadily increase, I think its healthy to talk about it. To put it out there and recognize those challenges in order to reaffirm one another that you're willing to face and conquer them. I've seen friendships slowly fizzle when change happens and one or all is not committed to rolling with those changes. The idea of that happening to us completely terrifies me which is why I planned to spill all my feelings [and probably some tears] on that coffee shop table.

But after a few hours of rawness and fears and excitements and stresses and hopes and dissatisfaction and dreams, there wasn't a need. Though I never doubted it, I was sure they were ready to lean into the curves that lie ahead. My heart is full of thankfulness for that Saturday morning and for the friends I shared it with. They continue to teach me what it looks like to be a life-long friend, and show me grace when I get wrapped up in my own little world and forget that cell phones exist.

I encourage you, for the deepening and longevity of your friendships that will soon encounter life's changes, to talk about it. We've done it before, and it brought us to this point where we were thankful to arrive. Talk about how to conquer the changes. Get it out there and get over the uncomfortableness. It's worth it. Also, FaceTime is awesome, pick up the phone [more than I do], and get out your agendas and pick a date to be together. It's important.

Last but not least, if you are fortunate enough to have your Abbys, Ashleys, and Hannahs all in the same town, I hope you soak it up. Do it for me. Cook for one another and grocery shop together and spend half the weeknights around each other's tables and, if you have them, go see one another's kids dance recitals or soccer games. And, if you aren't this fortunate, then you can call me about every third Thursday of the month, and we can cry together because we miss them dearly. Sounds like a plan.