2195 posts categorized "Family"

On being human

Birthday post balloons

Today is the day I turn 37 years old. It's funny, getting older, duh, because you essentially always feel like the same person you always were. What's this 18 year old doing with two children? Weird.

But I don't sit down to write about the weirdness of aging, I just trust we're all in the same boat. I sit down in the hopes that I can write this morning, as a birthday gift to myself, with bravery and honesty and, in the greatest hopes, to ease someone else's burden.

Last year, and I suspect in different ways, in many years to come, was a tough year. I'm sure I've alluded to it here before, and I know that piques your curiosity, and we all die to know each other's nitty gritty, but it'll have to suffice that it just was and that I have a family and that I cannot share all my details here. Anyway, if you can move past that bit, I'll get to the part that really matters, I think.

For the first few months of feeling really, really shitty, I walked through my life mechanically. I smiled for my kids, I waved at friends in the carpool line and I bought groceries. I made dinner. I did laundry. Those things required little thought. And then, when no one was around, I hid in my room and cried. I sat on my couch and stared. I felt justifiably sorry for myself, and then I also indulged in feeling sorry for myself because OF COURSE people have it far, far worse than I do.

Then - and I think this is the important bit - I began a Rocky sequence. I got off the couch. I began running - slowly and with lots of walking at first. I weaned off of my SSRI (slowly, slowly). I lost 30 pounds. I bought a small, run down house. I worked hard, hard, hard to fix it up (we're under contract!). I prayed, I meditated (poorly), I went to therapy. 

Then - and this part is even more important - I also failed. I cried on the phone to my sisters and my best friends. I indulged in a lot of anger and self-pity. I looked healthy habits in the eye and gave them the finger. I snapped at my kids. I was, and am, and probably always will be, full of mental writhing. In short I failed a lot.

Also, I keep failing. Also, I keep running. Some mornings I don't run. Some mornings I slog through two miles, miserable the entire time. Some mornings, like this one, I am King Kong running through the neighborhood, conquering all that is in front of me. Sometimes I succeed out of spite and a sense of life doing me wrong. Other times I am able to harness gratitude and compassion and peace. Those are the best times and they are rare and hard won.

My point is, and I'm not even sure I have a point, but my point is I am failing and succeeding at the same time and I have a feeling you are too. A Rocky sequence is sexy and movie-worthy, but it doesn't actually feel that way when you are inside it. 

I am in a boat with the rest of you, I imagine, and yet most of us feel like our friends and neighbors are in the better, well-balanced, shiny boat. The one where no one argues, no one makes poor decisions, no one grapples with the weightiness of being human (ever wish you were just, like, a fish or something?). 

We all know social media picks and chooses what it shows us (everyone on instagram can make the most swoony pies, while mine look like a jumble of assorted fruits smashed inside a lumpy crust). We also all know by now that those portray the highlight reel, the things our friends choose to show us. We also all know some of the gritty behind-the-scenes. But, still. Why is it so hard?  Why does Facebook tire me out and leave me feeling crappy? Is everyone going about their instagram-worthy lives while I press my face into the wind? I know they're not. 

The other day I saw a quote - one of those ubiquitous wall-quotes hipsters love to hang up in their gallery walls - and it said, simply, "Patience and discipline," I love that. I can do that. I can't do it perfectly, but I can keep trying. I can wake up some mornings in despair (looking at you, my best friend in the world) and put my shoulder into the hill. I can experience the tough and the shitty and the beauty and the transcendence. I can acknowledge the truth in opposing opinions. I can try my best to live in the exquisite slivers of a nuanced life. 

I hope this helps. I hope you feel less alone. I hope you know that while a few people must be living insufferably balanced hipster lives, the rest of us are right there with you just trying our best. xoxo 

Cool Christmas card idea

2013 Sypert card

I am endeavoring to work on a simple + awesome gift guide for 2017, but in the meantime thought I'd put this up for those of you who like to mail out cards (me) but find it kind of an obnoxious task. And - I promise, much as I'd love it - this is not a sponsored or affiliated post or anything like that.

Minted - a company I've used several times for our Christmas cards, is offering a new service. You text them the photo you've chosen and they send you back five different options for cards. You choose one, give them some text details etc & then they put it in your shopping cart! Woot! (Plus, I love their business structure of working with independent designers).

Now if I could only wrangle the four of us into a decent photo...

Happy card-ordering! xo

PS - above is our card from 2013 (totally heartbreaking) & and the same post on how to make your own custom holiday card, if you're more in the crafty mood :)

If you'd rather not make pie this week

Chocolate wafer stacks

I am a HUGE fan of pumpkin pie. Apple, cherry & other fruit ones are good, too, but I'll be honest & say I don't love pecan. I mean, if it's in front of me I'm probably going to eat some, but I don't go out of my way.

My point is, this is not an anti-pie post BUT it does give you a beautiful, chocolaty, creamy alternative to pies for the winter holidays. 

The recipe I found online calls it a zebra cake, but we called it a cookie log growing up. It's a traditional ice box cake, meaning you don't bake it, but you do let it sit in the refrigerator overnight. The beauty of this cake is that to the unsuspecting eye, it would appear you spent hours crafting layer upon layer of tiny sheet cakes only to put this together in all of it's magnificent glory. Or maybe that just makes you look like someone with too much time on her hands. Either way, it's a show stopper, and not difficult.

The wafers can be hard to find, but I've had luck at Publix during the holidays, in the ice cream section. Super specific, but worth the find. They're called Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers, and here's a link if you need a visual.

You can visit the online recipe here, if you like detailed descriptions, but I can distill it in this way: place homemade whipped cream on either side of each wafer, smoosh them together into a shape on a plate, cover THAT whole thing with more whipped cream (think: icing a cake) & cover the whole shebang overnight in the fridge.

You. will. be. amazed. 

(image via thekitchn, with another version of this simple recipe)

Monday links

Manger blog photo dining room

I haven't posted links in a while, and they have been steadily piling up in one of my folders. So, I thought on this chilly fall day, what would be better than some interesting and/or beautiful things to read about?

I love the idea of scavenger hunts, with family, or friends. 

Halloween makeup ideas, no costume required (if you're still on the hunt).

5 questions to ask when you're buying (Thanksgiving) wine.

Food might be a key component to the ADHD diagnoses.

I LOVE this article on how to throw a simple dinner party. My suggestion? Just throw one for crying out loud. Also, I always have a few bars of chocolate on hand nowadays that I can break up onto a tray for a quick tea or after-dinner treat. 

I loved these satisfying moments on Cup of Jo.

Sweet nutcracker napkins for the holidays. 

I make this herb flatbread regularly now and it is so good, especially with a Mediterranean type meal. 

“I’ve turned my hand to lots of things but never stuck at them. Not that I’m lazy, just sort of restless.” From interesting quotations.

Best of Ikea, 2018. The leather pulls!!

Have you heard of unicorn food? So pretty. This might do the trick to get June to eat more veggies :)

Beautiful, simple teapot.

That's it! Hope you're having a good start to your week. 

(top image via Manger, the lovely blog by Mimi Thorisson in a post listing their spring workshops)

Celebrating Mommy Ann

Todd family everyone Mommy Ann's memorial

In November my beloved grandmother died. To all of her grandchildren, and greats, she was called Mommy Ann.

Mommy Ann framed photo

It was weird, and hard, losing my last grandparent because I think my subconscious had decided she would always be there: doing puzzles, looking impossibly stylish, cooking dinner with a Tom Collins in hand. When you think of those old-school beauties who walked through life with (seemingly) effortless class, that was Mommy Ann. 

Molly

To celebrate, my aunt set up a beautiful party at her house in Cincinnati where we all ate, drank, chatted & were merry & were sad. Georgia put together a slide show that was unbearable to watch, but in the good way. How can someone feel so close and be gone? It's still hard sometimes.

Ella piano

As I walked around the party, catching up with cousins & aunts (there are males in this family, they're just...rare), I kept remarking to myself how much I liked everyone. Not just because they're family, but genuine appreciation for how much I wanted to keep hanging out. And how I kind of wish we hadn't all scattered to the four winds ;)

Molly Georgia pregnant

Here are a few pictures from our weekend, if you'd like to see, and I hope you're doing well. xo

Hope Aurelia angry face

Here's a picture with Aurelia - we were making angry faces at each other, because, at three and a half, she was over it

Zoe June

Ella Truett Henry gun fight

The kiddos celebrated Mommy Ann by...being kids.

Two Friday Favorites

Friday links - Manger

I do have a bit of Friday links for you!

One, the GORGEOUS picture above which is, of course, from one of my favorite blogs, Manger. I follow both Mimi & her uber-talented husband on instagram. His photography is so worth the endorphin release :)

Then, randomly, how great do these Swedish dishcloths look? I'm on a bit of a tear to reduce plastic + ugly things in our home, and these fit the bill nicely. 

And, lastly, I've been thinking a lot about parenting this week. I know the young parents in the world right now are overwhelmed and inundated with too much information, but this short article was calming & helpful for me to define ways of being firm + loving. (Otherwise my general advice to new parents is to NOT GOOGLE, or follow parenting click-bait)

Ok, I lied, one more. I love this post from Bunmi Laditan for some comic relief (shout out to Clyde for posting on FB)

Also - for more up-to-date posts, I often post to instagram if you'd like to follow. 

(photo credit from, duh, Manger)

A blogging break

GDI - blog break

I'm sure you've noticed my inability to post very often these days. I feel kind of uninspired, and I don't want to just plop any old thing onto the screen in order to post. So, I'm going to take a break. Recharge, hopefully come back in a week or two refreshed and inspired :)

In the meantime, I'd love to link to my favorite posts from GDI for your perusing pleasure. xoxo

A super yummy chocolate cake.

A tiny but impactful home improvement tip.

Baby June dances.

A fun place to eat here in Columbia.

One of my absolute favorite kid books.

Our kitchen renovation reveal & the break-down.

A bright red lipstick for fall.

Camping in teepees.

How to make pumpkin spice latte at home.

Ways to unknot your busy life.

Why cooking at home is so great.

Where to find some lovely art.

Movie nights.

The sweetest baby in the world turns four.

While my wild-man turns seven.

Just for fun, pregnancy pictures with Truett.

Planning a Christmas party.

Winter soups.

Love you guys. xoxo

(image via)

Hurricane Matthew & other updates

GDI - June tree

Yesterday we got a voicemail saying school is cancelled for the next three days. I was a little confused - because hurricane Matthew isn't really supposed to hit Columbia all that hard - but then I heard it's because we are re-directing our school busses to Charleston for an evacuation. I think everyone is still reeling from last year's 1,000 year flood

My plans are as follows: Halloween crafts, movie night at our friend's house, & lots of cooking. Come on by, if you're looking for something to do.

Also, I'll be posting more regularly to instagram, so follow along if you'd like. 

Also, also, I'm almost done with this book: Eligible (it's a modern retelling of Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice) and it is soooo much fun. Can't put it down. 

GDI - pride & prejudice

(image credit dramafever)

Our trip up to Virginia

GDI - pebbly beach Colonial Beach VA

Our trip up to Virginia this weekend was a whirlwind - fun and busy & beautiful :) Our dear friend Sarah was married in an historic church and the reception was held on her family's farm. It was lovely, all of it.

Here are a random assortment of photos, with the little stories behind each. Hope you had a good weekend, too.

Our hotel was a short drive from Colonial Beach, Virginia, a tiny town with a few cute restaurants and a pebbly beach. We spent an hour talking and picking out the prettiest pebbles. Well, no, that's not true. I picked out pebbles while Bud mostly tried to see how many he could stack on top of one another. I think his toppled at six.

GDI - lovely pink pebbles

You can't really tell in this picture, but I found about a million beautiful rose quartz.

GDI - gin & tonic in basket

This was my emergency prep basket: ingredients for a gin & tonic at the hotel.

GDI - Bud Steamers

We ate dinner at possibly the cheesiest restaurant on the planet. Here's Bud hamming it up with a stuffed potato skin.

GDI - note to T&J&G

During our afternoon in Colonial Beach, we found a pretty little restaurant near the beach where they put brown butcher paper on the tables. I took a moment to write my kids a note & post to instagram, where I knew Georgia would see it.

GDI - pastries Mosaic

Coffee shop near Georgia's house in DC. Obligatory photo of goodies. We shared two chocolate croissants.

GDI - travel coffee for ants

An espresso and a sparkling water.

GDI - S & S wedding church

The church - built in the 1700's. No electricity, oil burning lamps, just perfect.

GDI - wedding reception

A picture from the reception.

Congratulations Sarah & Scott!! xoxo

Friday tidbits

GDI - butterfly bush Friday tidbits

What are you up to this Friday? The kids had a short school day because of storm Hermine, so Bud & I decided to keep them out for the whole day rather than drive in this rain. Right now they're screeching over Legos, but eh, it's cozy & fun being at home all day. 

Let's do some links & hope you have a cozy weekend, too.

I liked these back-to-school rituals over at Cup of Jo. Baking a cake the night before? Brilliant. Also - have you tried Boxed? I haven't but would love to hear how people like it.

Georgia brought me back a bottle of Jo Malone Lime & Basil lotion from London, and I really like the scent. I put the perfume on my covet list (I'm always on the hunt for a lovely new perfume).

Preventing cancer from a whole-body approach.

MM.LaFleur sounds like the coolest brand for simple, beautiful women's clothes. I'd love to see a casual line.

A good quote for a tough day.

A Harry Potter festival in October

This white beans with spinach & sausage recipe looks good for a cozy fall evening.

Why you should put a table in your front yard. I love this idea. Here's a pretty one.

Balance, haha.

Beautiful pictures of Scotland. Sigh.

(the photo above is from my instagram account, which you can follow if you'd like)

About Me

My Photo Hi! I'm Hope. Welcome to my website all about: style, food, travel & parenting. I live in Columbia, SC with my husband and two bebes.

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