First Aid Kit : Stay Gold

Nothing like a little First Aid Kit on a rainy, autumn Friday afternoon.

What if our hard work ends in despair?
What if the road won’t take me there?
Oh, I wish, for once, we could stay gold

What if to love and be loved’s not enough?
What if I fall and can’t bear to get up?
Oh, I wish, for once, we could stay gold
We could stay gold

We’re on our way through rugged land
Top of that mountain we wanted to stand
With hearts of gold
With hearts of gold

But there is only forward, no other way
Tomorrow was your hope at the end of the day
And gold turns gray
And gold turns gray

IKEEEEEAAAAA!!!

Sometimes it pays to have friends in high places! IKEA family and friends day! Squeeeee!!!! #ikea #kc #kansascity #yay

It’s here, it’s finally here! Today the brand spanking new IKEA Home Furnishings opens in Kansas City! Everyone knows I’m a pretty big fan, since we fell deeply in love at my first IKEA experience in Newark New Jersey almost 10 years ago. I’ve been patiently waiting for the Sweedish furniture giant to come to Kansas City, but honestly, I never really thought it would happen. I mean, a Trader Joe’s AND an IKEA?! Could we be so lucky!

This past weekend Trent and I were lucky enough to attend a special “Friends and Family” day at the new store, so we got a sneak peek of all it’s awesomeness. I also forced Trent to buy a stupid number of stools for our house, which I tried and failed to put together myself. I’m sure I’ll be spending plenty of time at IKEA in the near future. Did any of you check it out yet? What do you think? I mean, furniture and meatballs?! That’s a win-win, people!

Horse Crazy 2.0

When I was about 7-years-old, I took my first horseback riding lesson. I had been a typical horse-crazy girl, but after that first lesson, my love for those giant animals skyrocketed. I would spend every waking moment at the barn, grooming lesson horses, mucking out stalls, riding out to the pasture to gather up the horses and bring them back to the stable…I loved it. I thought I’d end up riding horses for the rest of my life, maybe owning my own stable some day or teaching lessons. Even though that didn’t exactly happen as I’d planned, it’s been pretty wonderful to watch my kids learn how to ride the past few months. For her birthday this summer, Lucy asked for riding lessons, and she got her wish! She spent the summer riding at Peeper Ranch, the same place I rode when I got back into the saddle a few years back. Even Tate got to take a mini-lesson, and while we thought he’d be afraid, he had a ball! It’s a pretty wonderful thing, watching your kids love something you loved so much at their age. We’re taking a break from riding for the fall, but Lucy is already begging to go to horse camps and workshops at the ranch over the holidays and spring break. I might need to make her muck out a stall or two to earn her keep, but I have a feeling I might end up a ranch mom, with a minivan full of dirty boots and smelling of leather saddles. Sounds pretty perfect to me.

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Endless Summer S’mores Bars

At the opening of summer WAY back on Memorial Day, I attended a backyard BBQ with a few friends and their families. Yes, the company was totally fun, but what had my heart racing was the food! I am not what one would call a master chef (or just “a chef” or “someone who can cook”…more like “prime minister of boxed mac and cheese”), but I love having friends who can whip up a good meal, especially when they share with me! One friend not only made an amazing dip that I parked myself by for the entire party, but she also brought these incredible s’mores bars. After some unfortunate and unattractive begging, she passed on the recipe, and I’ve made them several times over the summer. They are easy to make and a huge hit! Even though summer is technically over, I plan on bringing these to a few tailgates this fall, and I will probably have to make extra batches for me to keep in my fridge just in case I’m in need of a s’mores fix!

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S’Mores Bars

2 sleeves of graham crackers
1/3 cup sugar
1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt
2 sticks of butter melted
1 package milk chocolate chips
1 package mini marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350. Line a 9×13 with foil, grease foil. Grind crackers in food processor. Mix crumbs, sugar, salt and butter in a large bowl. Set aside about 1⁄2 cup of mixture. Press the rest evenly into pan. Cook in oven for about 12 minutes. While crumb crust is cooling, melt chocolate chips. Pour chocolate over crust and spread evenly. Sprinkle marshmallows over chocolate, press lightly into the chocolate. Sprinkle the remaining crumb mix. Broil for about a minute. Refrigerate for 2 hours. Try not to eat the entire pan in one sitting, but if you do, I won’t tell anyone!

A Grateful Labor Day

We spent our Labor Day weekend at my parents’ lake cabin in Council Grove, Kansas, soaking in the sun and enjoying some much-needed downtime with my family. Year after year I post about spending time at the lake and year after year I spew out all the cliches about watching my kids grow up in a place I loved as a child, but I can’t seem to help myself. They keep getting bigger and the lake pretty much stays the same. They stare out at the stars as the moon rises over the water and I remember nights on the deck watching the constellations overhead. They cry about the seaweed touching their feet and I remember when I would sit on the dock refusing to get in because of the creepy feeling that wet grass gave me. There are goggles lost to the depths of the water, which probably sit next to countless toys, rings and other trinkets I misplaced 20 years ago, never to be seen again.

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Watching my kids (and my niece and nephews) in this place is like watching an old video tape of my own youth, except, of course, they are more beautiful and lovely than I remember being at their ages. Instead of rocking a discman, my niece lays on the boat deck with her ear buds and iPhone. My sister takes photos with her iPhone and texts them to me. The kids ask to make silly videos of themselves “chicken fighting” in the water. It all feels very new, but also very worn, which is probably why I love it so much. It’s like all of my favorite things are colliding and I get to watch and laugh along.

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I can feel the season changing and as the weather changes, so does everything. I guess that is the one continuous thing in my life thus far…change is constant. My little people are growing and changing every day. Lately, Lucy has refused to let me take her photo. When I try, she makes an angry face or sticks out her tongue. Sometimes she tries (very successfully) to look extremely insane. “Moooommmmm, stop!” she yells when I pull out my phone or my camera. So I have to rely on others, like my sister, for whom Lulu will smile genuinely, to capture her as she really is. Lucy Peters, age 8, full of life and laughter, unless her mom has a camera out, in which case she will quickly turn in to a surly teenager. Sigh. Thank goodness for Tater, who at age 3 still thinks I am all things amazing and wonderful, and will beg me to take his picture so he can look at it later. “Mama, take my picture!” he squeals, calming my mama temper tantrum over his sister’s refusal. She was like that once too, and I know one day he will cringe at my camera. I suppose all I can do is enjoy it while it lasts, or come up with good knock knock jokes to catch them off guard when they are refusing to smile.

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I am so grateful for this full, fun life I’m leading today. I know that happiness comes from within, but the people in my life these days have made the joy more robust than I ever could have imagined. The last year has been really, really hard for me personally, but I really do believe, as cliched as it sounds, that I was meant to go through those difficult times. Today I am so thankful for the simple joys of my life, and I know that the person I was before wouldn’t have appreciated all these gifts the way I do now. I would have expected them and been upset if they weren’t as perfect as I wanted. I feel like a little kid again, reborn and seeing the world with brand new eyes. I feel…full of wonder. It feels trite and silly to say I’m grateful for the hardship my family has gone through, but I know without it, there wouldn’t be the serenity there is today.

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So, at least for today, I am extremely grateful…

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