December 31, 2010

Friday's Happy List

1) My little girl. With 2010 coming to a close today, I am thinking a lot about the year that was. For me, the year was Tessa and what a way to spend a year! Looking into those gray eyes, wiping that bottom, mopping baby food off our walls, and learning that most things that I thought would be easy about parenthood are hard and most things that I thought would be hard are easy. It's been a phenomenal year, not only because we welcomed Tessa in March but because I have gotten to stay home with her. I didn't know I would love being at home so much as I do. I am a big-time feminist. I think that means I'm supposed to be wearing a suit, coming up with ideas in a board room. But I much prefer wearing my slippers all day and doing some baking and some sewing.

Tessa has brought so much sunshine and promise into every day of our lives. It's hard to believe she was so tiny just nine months ago. Now she is a 20 lb. crawling machine.

Tessa Jean Barnes, one day old

2)  This feather painting. Just so pretty. 

Source: Larkspur Studio

3) These handmade cake stands. Just glue a pretty old candlestick to a pretty old plate. Love this idea.

Source: blog

4) My new blue jeans. My Dad got me a mall gift card for Christmas, and I spent it in its entirety on these Free People jeans. Have I mentioned that I am SO EXCITED that we got a Free People in the Green Hills Mall?!! Nekos calls them my Dazed and Confused pants. They so are! All '70s and bellbottom-y. And they're stretchy, comfortable, and actually long enough.

Source: Free People Sailor Relaxed Flare

5) This website was created by Andrea Linett, a former editor at Lucky, one of my favorite fashion magazines. There are both pictures of inspiring real women and sketches of fashionable women spied fleetingly on the street. I like this site because I, too, get as many fashion ideas from strangers as I do from magazines. I'm still thinking about recreating the outfit of this girl I saw months ago, holding hands with her fellow outside an East Nashville restaurant: skinny jeans, leopard flats, and a lemon-colored cardigan. Really just the perfect casual outfit. 

6) Planning our Southwestern adventure. I've been having so much fun doing some last minute dreaming and planning about the epic trip we're taking next week. It's me and Nekos with Tessa in tow, and we're hitting Tucson, Sedona, Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon (which I've never seen before), AND Los Angeles. It's going to be one big, messy road trip through the desert and I couldn't be more excited (but also a little apprehensive about Tessa not absolutely losing it the car. There is nothing worse than a screaming baby in a car, in my mind).  

December 29, 2010

You Have to Hear: Jill Andrews

When I lived in Knoxville, I saw Jill Andrews play several times as one-half of The Everybodyfields, this offbeat little bluegrass band built largely on Jill's effortlessly beautiful voice.

The girl can make a plaid shirt look like a million bucks. She's gorgeous in a real-girl kind of way. The kind of person you want to take home and make your best friend.

Just this week I realized that she's gone solo. Her self-titled EP came out over a year ago, and I can't stop listening to it. Her first full-length will be available in March. She also does this ah-mazing cover of My Morning Jacket's "Bermuda Highway."

Check her out if you get a chance!

P.S. I included Jill in my "10 Artists to Watch Out for in 2011" round-up for 

December 28, 2010

Pretty Grateful

Today I found a thank you note in the mailbox from my mom. In her uniquely beautiful handwriting, it thanked me and Nekos specifically for each Christmas gift. It was such a satisfying thing to receive.

My mom taught me very early on to say thank you. She taught me to write thank you notes and to mention each thing and to tell how I would use it. Now, I'm a compulsive thank-you-er. I have plenty of flaws, but I am good at being grateful.

We got some pretty amazing gifts this Christmas.

My Aunt Mary Jane knitted Tessa a stocking. I am overwhelmed by that stocking. I think of how many hours it took her to make, how many times she imagined me opening the package, and how she had to drive to the post office and wait in line to mail it to us.

There were lots more pretty things this year.

Brooke gave us an ornament made of what was once a part of her baby mobile. Um, how amazing is that?

Molly gave me a beautiful comb made of bone to wrestle Tessa's tangles with.

Nekos got me everything on my wish list. (Thanks, baby!) I haven't taken my moccasins off.

Minnetonka Kilty Moccasins

Except to put on this heavenly pair of green sheepskin bedroom slippers. (Thanks, Mom!) I guess it was The Year of the Moccasins.

L.L. Bean Wicked Good Moccasins

There were plenty of great toys and warm clothes for Tessa. This kid is such a fashionista after the haul she got, and our living room looks like a daycare center with all the toys to trip over.

I am tired from all the food I've eaten, wine I've swilled, conversations I've had, laughs I've shared, and sleep I've lost this holiday season. I am so grateful.

Here are some pretty little thank you notes I made today. I got the idea from my Applique Your Way book. Sewing on paper was really fun, and I liked that nothing had to be precise. The squares didn't have to be exactly square and the stitches didn't have to be very straight. I hope that those who get one in the mail will know that I appreciate all the thought and hope and love that goes into a gift.

If you're reading this, I'm thankful for you too.

December 27, 2010

Friday's Happy List, 3 Days Late

1) My two best friends have been home for the holidays. One lives in Spokane and one lives in Tucson, so our visits are infrequent and heavenly. This is the two of them, icing strawberry cupcakes at my baby shower last February.

Molly and Brooke

2) This vintage umbrella. It seems to say: Spring is on the way, my dear! (Even though it's still a very, very long way off.)

Source: Etsy

3) This baby girl bedroom. It looks sort of ridiculously similar to the bedroom I blogged about here. I'm a sucker for pretty fabrics. I found this photo on the Oliver + S website, where this quilt is being offered as one of their free patterns. Quilt-making is definitely on my To Do list for 2011.

4) Free clothing patterns online. Speaking of sewing, I have been poring over free patterns online. There's so much stuff I want to make! I've never actually sewn an article of clothing before, but these look easy enough to tackle. I've come to understand, though, that no matter how easy something looks it will take dozens of hours and I will curse my sewing machine because there will always be a bobbin that runs out, a needle that becomes unthreaded, or a jam that can't be explained.

I want to make this:

And this:

And this, which shows how to turn a onesie into a dress:

5) Pretty fabrics to play with. To get started, I ordered a bunch of gorgeous fabrics from the Sew, Mama, Sew! store yesterday. I ordered only a yard of about 10 different fabrics, which is so neat because that way I'm only annoying one woman who I'll never meet in cyberspace versus a real live woman who will curse me for having to measure and cut so many small amounts of fabric. Here are some of my favorites that are on the way to me:

6) Paint chip art. I've been seeing a lot of this lately, and as a major fan of color, I love it.

These Behr paint chip embroideries were done by blogger Lisa Solomon, who sells them framed for $400!

December 26, 2010

The L.O.V.E. Wall

If you live in Nashville, you may have noticed that along I-40, around the White Bridge Road exit, there's a brightly colored wall with the word painted LOVE on it. Every side of the building is painted a different color of amazing.

Nekos recently went there to take pictures of two of our best friends, T.J. Anderson and Kimberly Novosel, because they wanted some pretty couple pictures to give to their parents for Christmas. I'm obsessed with how beautiful they turned out. Kimberly is a fashion stylist here in Nashville, and T.J. is this town's best realtor and Tessa's godfather. These pretty pictures are a credit to T.J. and Kimberly, who are so in love, but also to Nekos, who has turned into a terrific photographer this last year. I think it also helps that Nekos is a big cheeseball who will cheer on any couple who is in love. He loves love. :)

December 25, 2010

Real Dang Good Carrot Cake

So the carrot cake I made yesterday ended up being the best cake I've ever made. And I've made a lot of cakes. It was so insanely moist and flavorful, and is definitely something I will make for years to come. I mentioned the melty icing in yesterday's post, but that was just because I didn't wait for the cake to cool before icing. Patience is an issue for me.

Here's the recipe, which I tweaked from one I'd found online:


3 eggs
3/4 cup skim millk
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups shredded carrots
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple with juice
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup orange juice


1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour an 8x12 inch pan.
2) In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
3) Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, simmer golden raisins and orange juice for 10 minutes or until raisins soak up juice.
4) In a large bowl, combine eggs, milk, oil, sugar and vanilla. Mix well. Add flour mixture and mix well.
5) In a medium bowl, combine shredded carrots, coconut, walnuts, pineapple and cooked raisins.
6) Using a large wooden spoon or a very heavy whisk, add carrot mixture to batter and fold in well.
7) Pour into two round cake pans, and bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 40 minutes. Check with toothpick.
8) Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes before icing the cake.


Cream Cheese Icing
(makes more than enough to ice Real Dang Good Carrot Cake)


16 oz light cream cheese
1 stick butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
32 ounces sifted powdered sugar
juice of one lemon


Mix all ingredients together well. Spread on cake and serve!

December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas Eve

Today, the presents are still under the tree and the carrot cake is still in the fridge (with the cream cheese icing sliding down the sides). Today I don't have to think about what a hassle it will be to take each ornament off the tree and haul out all the wrapping paper and ribbon to the trash and all the decorations down to the basement.

I have the holiday spirit for the first time since I was a kid. Can't you see it in that picture above? There are Santa Clauses and reindeer practically coming out of my ears. It's (obviously!) all because of Tessa. Like ole Erma Bombeck said, "There's nothing sadder in this world than to awake Christmas morning and not be a child."

Tonight we're going out to my mom's house for spaghetti and Scrabble, presents and my melting carrot cake. My Aunt Bugs mailed a packet of reindeer food for Tessa to sprinkle outside. I'd never heard of it before, but I think it's a really sweet tradition to start with her. When we get home, Nekos and I will put Tessa to bed, open a bottle of wine, and watch a Christmas movie. I'm thinking Elf.

Reindeer food
When I was a kid my Dad would go outside on Christmas Eve and ring a bell outside my bedroom window. I'd be curled in bed with my mom, who'd be reading to me, and she'd tell me that that bell meant Santa was on his way. I want to do that for Tessa too.

Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope y'all are eating lots of carbs and staying warm.

December 23, 2010

9 Months Old.

Miss Bean is nine months today. Nine months in, nine months out. The "out" part has been way better than the "in" part, but then again I just wasn't a very happy pregnant lady. I am a very, very happy mama.

Tess hasn't lived up to our prediction that she'd be walking by Christmas, and I am so happy about that. I'm not ready for walking. The slap-slap-slap of her palms against the wood floors as she crawls around--that's enough. The triumph on her face when she pulls up on the coffee table, my knees, our bed--that's enough. I'm delighted watching her eat Cheerios and scrambled eggs and Craisins and all kinds of exotic things that she would have spat right out a month ago. Tess has too quickly turned into a toddler, and I want to freeze-frame her little booty right here. This age is the most fun (so far).

She started saying "mama" just this week. Not as frequently as "dada," which Nekos has gotten to hear for two months already, but I love the word "mama." It's so sweet and Southern and simple, and it's the first time it's ever been applied to me.

Tessa Jean, to be sure, is a daddy's girl. I get it. I am pretty crazy about Nekos too. I'm so happy that she has a daddy who loves her and takes so much pleasure in caring for her like Nekos does.

Her snort face. There's a lot of this.