November 28, 2014

Photography | The Otteson Family

I am lucky to have a cousin who lives just minutes away here in Fort Worth. It was a weird coincidence that we ended up here within weeks of each other. She asked me to take some pictures of her cute little family a couple weeks ago, and of course I obliged.

Her little boy was such a trooper, it was freezing cold the afternoon we decided to take pictures. We were only outside about 30-45 minutes and my hands were numb when we left.

They are such a happy little family and it totally shows in their pictures. They pretty much look like this all the time. Smiles all around!

Holly & Co.

November 27, 2014

Like all years and all people, in 2014, we have had our ups and downs. This year has felt so broken up into pieces, just based on what has been happening in our circumstances. I feel as though this year has been 3 separate years, each defined by different moments, good and bad.

I am grateful for so many things, and could list pages and pages of things, but I will stick to just a few highlights for this year.

My Husband

If you know Ryan at all, his work ethic is something that defines him. He not only graduated college, he did it with an amazing GPA, while working, while raising a family, and with a career. Without him, our lives would fall apart. His assurance is all I need to keep going. He is my rock. 

Our Families

These pictures are missing several people but they are the best I have. I'm thankful for not only the support systems that families bring, but all the unique relationships. One of the hardest parts of infertility, is that Zoe is an only child, something that is hard for her and for me. But we are lucky that she has bunches of cousins who adore her and she shares special relationships with them.

We spent last weekend at my sister's house and she spent three days surrounded by cousins who are all vying for her attention. She feels so special when we get to visit cousins.

Whenever I need a baby fix (and I do quite often) I have sisters and sisters in law, who always oblige with either pictures or skype.

This applies to extended family too. My extended families are so reachable and I feel blessed to have special relationships with cousins, aunt and uncles and grandparents. 

My Faith
I am not as strong as I would like to be, and sometimes my faith waivers. But I am grateful eternal the nature of my faith. For the knowledge that this life is not the end, nor is it the beginning. I'm grateful for the ability to correct my mistakes, be forgiven and start over.

We moved into a fantastic ward here in Texas and I'm grateful for the people we have met and who I serve with. I love that the Gospel is the same everywhere.


We are sharing our Thanksgiving dinner with some new friends here in Texas. 
Ryan is making the turkey, which is a first for us. He has covered in a homemade seasoned butter mixture and it smells divine.

Our pie to adult ratio is 1:1. Ryan scoffed when I suggested that may be too much pie. His response,
"You can never have too much pie!"

With that in mind, I am wishing you and yours a 
Happy Thanksgiving with lots of love, laughter and pie!

Holly & Co.

November 16, 2014

Meal Planning | Preparation

Life is always busy. If it's not homework and laundry, that time fills with other things.

Pulling back the curtain a bit here, we seem full up to the brim with things happening around here, and when push comes to shove, a home-cooked meal is the thing that goes out the window.

Recently I've been trying to have things that we can easily make at home, where some of the ingredients are already made. Which was working sometimes, but we were still hitting the drive-thru more often than I'd like to admit.

In an effort to save money and our waistlines, I spent an hour yesterday searching my Pinterest boards for meal ideas and recipes. I spent another hour at the grocery store, shopping for the items that we needed for this week.

On the menu for this week:

Balsamic Roast Beef

Baked Potato Soup with Ham

Chicken Pot Pie Soup

Kabobs with Chicken, Red Peppers and Onions

Asian Peanut Noodles with Chicken

Macaroni and Cheese with Chicken and Broccoli

Homemade Pizza

Today, I spent another hour washing, cutting, cooking and dividing up items for our meals this week. On Sunday Afternoons I usually enjoy an uninterrupted 3 hour nap, that recharges me for the whole week. Today, I shortened the nap to 1.5 hours to make sure that our prep for the week was done.

I have high hopes for this new process. I'll let you know how it goes. With all my preparation today, I should only be spending less than 10 minutes a day on dinner, which is a huge incentive for me. Gone are the days of "What should we have for dinner?" at 5:00pm, at least that's what I'm hoping for.

Is dinnertime a struggle at your house? Do you meal plan? I would love any and all advice or resource suggestions.

Holly & Co.

November 12, 2014

Learning Calligraphy | A Darby Smart Kit

Does anyone else have lettering envy? I'm so guilty. I could look at hand lettered canvases and invitations for hours.

I've tried using calligraphy pens before and I've never had great result. I've tried faux calligraphy which works ok, but takes a long time.

I saw this kit available on the Darby Smart website, and with a $10 coupon, I treated myself to the kit. I've got plans to use it for an upcoming holiday project as well.

Darby Smart is a DIY kit company, they have kits for all kinds of DIY projects. It's like Kiwi Crate for grown ups. I like that they have a variety of kits and it is not a subscription. 

Purchase Here. Use coupon code "howdydarby" for $10 off.

This is my first purchase from Darby Smart. The kit included free 2 day shipping, but it took 5 days to ship, which was a disappointment. I think I've been spoiled living in a big city for the last few months. Things in the mail, even UPS arrive much faster. 

I was excited when it came. The Tiffany blue box was a nice surprise on a weekday afternoon! Upon opening the kit, I found all the pieces included as described and got right to practicing.

The booklet has great instructions for how to make all kinds of letters. The most helpful page in the whole booklet, was page 3 which shows you how to hold the pen. My lines became much more consistent after I followed the guidelines.

It comes with black India ink. A word to the wise, have a rag or paper towels nearby. Also, I wouldn't recommend practicing anywhere near white fabric. #justsayin'

After several sheets of practice letters, I found my groove. It took awhile to learn how much ink to use, how many letters I could get between dips and how to hold the pen. Eventually, I was even starting to writing in cursive. I've only used two of the nibs so far, the smaller two. I'm not quite sure what to use the bigger ones for, as the lettering I'm planning on doing, is going to be rather small.... (more on that to come soon!)

Overall, this was a fun addition to my crafting. What I really liked about this kit and the Darby Smart idea, is that I only needed one box. 

When I'm working on scrapbook pages or sewing projects, I have to get out lots of boxes and materials. I like that this is still crafty and fun, but requires less of a stuff and space commitment.

If you are interested in purchasing this kit (or any others) you can go here, and use the code "howdydarby" for $10 off!

Holly & Co.

Please note affiliate links are used in this post, but my thoughts and opinions are my own, I was not compensated for this post.