Friday Wrap: Slow Your Roll

Whew! It has been a crazy couple of weeks with puppy training and back-to-school madness. To top it off, it seems like the news is full of stories that make me want to weep. I was horrified to see the clip of the Virginia reporters who were shot on live TV. I needed to push away from the computer and take a break. I decided to take a long walk to regroup and look for signs of life and joy.

It wasn’t right away, but eventually (about the time I spotted ducks warming themselves in the sun) I realized how good it felt to just slow down. Each step contained a sliver of time that deserved my attention.

The 86,400 seconds of each day are like tiny gifts.

Instead of focusing on things that had already happened, or worrying about possible events in the future, I needed to be a witness to what’s right in front of me…open each of those little presents. That’s not to say I won’t ever have difficult or challenging experiences. It’s just that it will only be for a moment. And it will pass. More gifts are already on their way.

When I slowed down to love what’s in front of me, my fear melted, my heart softened, and hope began to bloom again.

Here are a few things I captured on my walk:

{ONE} the resting duck pose

Resting Ducks

{TWO} sweet magnolia blooms

Fragrant magnolia

{THREE} a mushroom village that may or may not contain Smurfs

Mushroom farm

{FOUR} the wise old heron

Heron

{FIVE} the hungry little hummingbird

The Hungry Little Hummingbird

What will you take time to see today? Capture it. Treasure it. Let it inspire you to choose joy over fear.

Have a blessed day!

-Kate

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Treat Yo’ Puppies!

Leo sends smooches to everyone's pooches today!

Leo sends smooches to everyone’s pooches today!

It’s officially National Dog Day. In honor of this special holiday, I wanted to share a few fun treats and accessories for your best furry friends.

Homemade Treats

dog treats

Get tons of recipes here to spoil your pup with lovin’ from the oven.

Store Bought Treats

personalized dino bone

Three Dog Bakery is the ultimate treat stop for your pup. Check out this giant peanut butter dino bone for $10.99 that you can have personalized.

Cute Dog Collars

This cute number is from Custom Collar. The buckle can even be engraved.

This cute number can be found here for $15. The buckle can even be engraved.

Funny Food Bowl

This seriously cute bowl can be found here.

This seriously cute bowl can be found here for $25.

SQUIRRELS!

What dog doesn't love a squirrel? This plush toy can be found here for $XX.

What dog doesn’t love chasing squirrels? This interactive plush toy is designed like a puzzle to keep your dog busy – and happy. It can be found here for $23.

Trendy Fall Sweaters

I can't even stand the cuteness of this picture. Look at this argyle purple sweater with matching scarf. Perfect for melting hearts when the weather turns cold. Get it here!

Holy cuteness! Look at this argyle purple plaid sweater with a matching scarf. It’s perfect for melting hearts when the weather turns cold. Get it here for $26.

I’m off to do some shopping for my sweet little guy. Have a fun day treating your sweet pups.

-Kate

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Slim Down Your Shelves

Stacks of books

I know there’s a little trend called e-readers like the Kindle, NOOK, and Kobo. Let’s face it, though, I still love a good ol’ fashioned hardbound book in my hands. So I continue to buy them. I’m a huge fan. I also adore magazines and catalogs, which is something I come by honestly. My mom is quite the catalog queen. It’s always a treat to thumb through her collection. The only downside is the stacks and stacks of paper around the house. What are bibliophiles like us to do?

You gotta sort, toss, share and store.

Let’s start with sorting and tossing.

My mom organizes her magazines and catalogs in alpha order so when the latest issue arrives, she can easily find the publication and swap it out. She has the amazing willpower to let go of past issues. I personally have a struggle tossing back issues of Real Simple, but I’ve recently let go of anything before 2010. It’s progress.

One thing that has helped is a filing system.

I tear out pages that have inspired or taught me something I want to remember, and I file them in a cute storage bin labeled by topic. Then I feel okay about recycling the rest of the publication.

This canvas file tote was from Hable Construction.

This canvas file tote was from Hable Construction.

When it comes to books, I sort by subject matter. It’s like a mini Barnes & Noble right in my living room. It helps me assess the collection and see if I have any duplicate titles, which has happened! Once you realize you have one too many books on container gardening and parenting toddlers, it makes it easier for the next step: sharing!

Share and share alike.

There are tons of great ideas for swapping or sharing your books and magazines once you’re ready to part with your beloved pages:

  • Use an online resource, such as Book Mooch to swap out your book titles.
  • Go to Amazon. They have a program where you can trade in old text books for merchandise on their site – which has practically everything.
  • Have a book swap party with friends or neighbors. Just like a cookie swap, you have everyone bring a certain number of items to share. That way everyone leaves with the same amount of fresh material. Magazines are great for this, too. If you’re left with an issue or book that everyone has read, the host can donate the stash to the local library.
  • Create a Book Hut program in your community. I was strolling around Bentonville this weekend with my niece, and we spotted this adorable house of books. The concept is to create mini libraries around town. It encourages reading, sharing with neighbors, and best of all – keeping your bookshelves to a minimum.
book hut

Look out Springdale, I want to bring this to our neighborhood!

Store your beauties.

Once you have determined your must-keep books and pared down your favorite magazines, you can store them in a lovely manner. I like using baskets for my magazines. When it comes to books, I prefer traditional shelves with some non-traditional bookends tucked in the mix.

bookcases-styling

I love how this bookshelf is styled. The magazines are stored in seagrass      baskets along the bottom and books are intermingled with vases, planters    and other interesting odds and ends. Beautiful!! {via}

I hope this inspires you to organize your books and slim down your shelves a bit. I’d love to see how your books look. Be sure to take pictures and tag me on Instagram @KateJAndersen so I can see.

Have a creative day!

-Kate

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Friday Wrap: Back-to-School Week

Friends, it’s Friday! That means we made it another week, and it’s time for a quick wrap up of what went down in the Andersen house. This is pretty much in chronological order…

{ONE} Back-to-School Pictures

back-to-school

Happy back-to-school season! It has been so fun looking at everyone’s pics on Facebook and Instagram. Our classes started Monday, and this was our contribution to the picture party. I was relieved to see everyone looks relaxed and pulled together. What started as a well-organized morning turned into a darn near sitcom as we chased our puppy, Leo, around the house retrieving socks and shoes from his mouth – while also getting five Andersens dressed, fed, brushed and out the door in time. I didn’t manage to dry my hair, so I was the mom who looked like a wet dog dropping off her kids on the first day if anyone didn’t recognize me. My girls were super sweet and said, “Mom, it’s totally okay to just drop us off at the door. We got this.” Yes, they do. And nothing could make me feel more proud.

{TWO} Non-Sandwich Lunch Ideas – Also Gluten Free

If you’re looking for some creative ways to pack your kids’ lunches, this is a great resource! My kids get tired of the same sandwiches, so I wanted to start the year right full of ideas. I bought a couple of Lunch Blox Kits from Walmart to help pack these “bento box” style lunches. So far they’re working great. Here’s to happy lunching!

{THREE} The Magical Puppy Kong

puppy Kong

Okay, so y’all know we have a new puppy. We weren’t quite prepared for all of the chewing, nipping and biting. Yikes! I know part of the situation is that he’s teething. So I’ve been letting him sink those choppers into some frozen washcloths and other teething toys. There’s one that he particularly L.O.V.E.S. It’s the Kong for puppies.

If you have a dog, you’re probably familiar with these magical toys that dropped down from heaven. So far Leo has NOT been able to destroy this thing. That’s a miracle unto itself. And he’s still interested in playing with it! We’ve filled it with all kinds of treats, which keeps him super happy and engaged. The only tricky part is not introducing too many new foods at once (just like a baby) or puppies get a tummy ache. That happened to us, and Leo needed some probiotics. Oops. All better now.

{FOUR} Garden Living

I ventured over to this darling new garden store near my home in Fayetteville, AR. My garden goodness, this place is really beautiful and offers hard-to-find items in our area, such as Italian hand-thrown pottery and Dutch garden tools. I purchased a bottle of specialty hummingbird food on my first outing, which seems to be delicious according to the three little birds that continue to frequent my feeder. I’m definitely going back multiple times, and I encourage you to check it out. They have an online store, too!!

{FIVE} Garden Therapy

lavender garden

All of that shopping must have put me in a gardening mood. Although, when am I not? I headed to my brother’s hobby farm up in Missouri yesterday and spent the day pulling weeds in the lavender garden. It was incredibly therapeutic. The sky was clear and the wind was soft. Huge bumbles and butterflies were fluttering around while I listened to a cool playlist on the iPod that my nephew had compiled. The more I dug around and brushed against the lavender leaves, the more fragrant the air became. Even though it was hard work, during those few hours, all was well with the world. Certainly a nice place to be.

Have a blissful weekend, my friends. You deserve one!

-Kate

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Back-to-School Worry Stones

Heading back to school was always full of mixed emotions for me. On one hand I was super excited to see friends whom I didn’t get to see over the summer, and on the other I was nervous about new teachers and harder classes. My kids are the same way. We start to have upset tummies and canker sores this time of year. Not fun.

I decided to look for some helpful tools.

I discovered the concept of worry stones, which gives kids something small and tangible to hold onto when they feel stressed. They can simply reach in their backpack, lunchbox, or pocket to pull out their stone and allow it to absorb their worries and help them feel grounded. Especially when it’s paired with a reassuring phrase they can say to themselves, like, “I am safe and calm.”

The idea reminds me of the Kissing Hand.

In this classic children’s book, a momma raccoon places as kiss in her baby’s hand before he goes away to school. He’s able to keep her kiss with him all day – or in this case all night, since raccoons are nocturnal.

In the spirit of Kissing Hand, I used to draw a heart in the palm of my kids’ hands and kiss the center before sending them off to Kindergarten. It worked wonders, and is definitely something to try if you have little ones. Now that my babies are entering 4th and 7th grades, they may have outgrown this tradition. For the girls, it would just depend on the day.

We’re giving worry stones a try.

We scouted the garden for pretty rocks, then my husband and I kissed each rock before slipping them into little travel bags for school.

IMG_6183

Hopefully these will help ease the stress a little. At the very least, the kids have some cool stones to show their friends.

Here’s to a stress-free, back-to-school week all around!

-Kate

PS. Email me if you’d like to purchase a special worry stone harvested from a natural river bank here in beautiful Northwest Arkansas. It will arrive in a little organza bag and have instructions on how to work the stone. Only $3 plus shipping. Email: katejandersen{at}gmail{dot}com

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Friday Wrap: Pupdate

We’re officially first-time puppy owners, and I’m happy to report that our family survived the first week. Leo is a mini goldendoodle (part golden retriever; part poodle) and he has a major piece of my heart already. I tell ya what.

Meeting Leo

Introducing Leo! The kids adore this furry baby.

We picked Leo up from a breeder in Diamond, MO last Friday. He’s the most rambunctious little guy who wants to play, chew, climb and pee all over the house – just like a toddler.

In fact, here are five things we’ve learned about puppies so far.

{ONE} Puppies are all different. You won’t be perfectly prepared.

sleepy puppy

We read the books, talked to friends, consulted our vet, and thought we were perfectly prepared for our puppy, but no. Once Leo arrived, we made three trips to Petco in one day for things we needed – or needed to return. Just like a baby, you NEVER really know what you’re getting into until that stinker arrives. You just have to watch, learn, and go with the flow.

{TWO} Puppies pee as often as newborns. Protect your floors.

puppy proofing floors

We decided to put Leo in the guest bedroom until he’s grown out of the chew-everything puppy stage. Here’s the setup to help protect our floors. We rolled up the nice carpet and put down a plastic tarp, covered with indoor/outdoor carpet from Lowes. So far, this has protected our wooden floors nicely.

{THREE} Puppies are jumpers. Invest in a sturdy play pen.

playpen

This was not the most sturdy option. Keep reading.

We started with a smaller gate like this in the guest room, but Leo could use the horizontal bars for leverage and almost jumped right out of the play pen. He could also push this thing around the room like it was on wheels. So we went back to Petco to get a sturdier version – that only has vertical bars.

puppy play pen

Good boy, Leo! He looks like he’s in a mini jail, though.

{FOUR} Puppies get easily distracted. Keep all of the gates you’ve purchased.

puppy gate

This was the gate we bought for inside. It works better for us as a puppy outhouse.

The first time we took Leo outside to do his business, he took off running (sprinting and leaping more like it) all around the backyard. There wasn’t any business going down with so much to see, smell, and chew. So we took the first gate (that was too flimsy for inside) and put it outside to give him a confined “potty spot.” Since he was only going to be there for a short time, it didn’t matter if he could jump or push it around.

{FIVE} Puppies eat plants. Re-landscaping might be in your future.

hazardous plants for puppies

Speaking of being outside…Leo is too little to take on walks because 1) he’s not leash-trained and 2) there’s a terrible thing called parvo he can get from unvaccinated animals. Eek! So we have to wait until he has all of his shots before we can venture out. All of that to say, we’ve been sticking to the backyard for exercise and play, which is full of plants. #gardenmom

I noticed Leo tried to snag a bite of one of my hostas. Like an obsessed, first-time-dog-mom I googled “dangerous plants for puppies.” Sure enough, HOSTAS were on the list. Thank goodness I retrieved the leaf before Leo could actually eat it. There were lots of things in my backyard on that list, so now we’re watching him like a hawk until we can move some plants to the front garden this weekend. So much to think about!!

We have a busy few days ahead of us. We’re also getting ready for school to start on Monday. (Yes, we’re crazy to get a puppy this time of year.) But, here’s hoping YOU have a relaxing weekend full of quiet, rest and peace. Namaste!

puppy dog eyes

Leo says, “Have a happy weekend!” (It’s a little blurry because he never sits still!!)

One last thing! I’m linking up again this week, so be sure to check out all of the great bloggers on Five on Friday.

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-Kate

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Friday Wrap: Trip to Big Cedar

The kids start school in a week, so we decided to take a last-minute, mini vacay up to Branson, MO to enjoy the final days of summer.

Here are a few highlights of the week, which was mostly spent at Big Cedar Lodge. This is a beautiful wilderness resort packed with activities for families if you’re ever looking for a great getaway. Sorry to sound like a brochure, but it’s all true.

{ONE} The Views

scenic viewsThis was the view right outside of our room in Falls Lodge. That’s Table Rock lake through the lush trees. We canoed around the water one day. We also tried paddleboats. If you want to go very far, do NOT go the paddleboat route – unless you have legs like Lance Armstrong, which I do not. (Someone come tow me already.)

{TWO} Lost Canyon

lost canyon

The whole resort is tucked alongside a mountain, so there are countless waterfalls, caves, and canyons to explore. This pic was inside of Lost Canyon, which looks more rustic and outdoorsy than it really was. What you don’t see is the golf cart we were riding. Oh, and the fancy drinks we ordered at Bat Cave Bar just at the top of the waterfall there. I love the great outdoors and all, but this was my kind of exploring. Notice the smiles?

{THREE} Sunset Rituals

sunset rituals

At Top of the Rock, which is adjacent to Big Cedar – and all owned by the same guy – there are two amazing golf courses, three restaurants and a natural history museum. We didn’t get to all of the activities, but we were sure to catch this one. Every night at 8pm, at the tippy top of the rock, the resort hosts a sunset ritual to honor the people who have gone before us. It started with the most amazing sunset view over the water while a man played bagpipes. As we listened to the music, a group of men dressed in Civil War attire (who came out of nowhere) loaded and shot a cannon! It was as loud as you might imagine, but such a cool experience for all of us.

{FOUR} Cosmic Cavernscave dwellers

Just a few miles away from Big Cedar are tons of interesting things to explore – like Cosmic Caverns. I say “explore” but it was really a well-orchestrated walking tour that took us 372 feet below the earth’s surface. If the thought of that gives you instant claustrophobia, I was the SAME way. It wasn’t bad, though. It was well lit, and you were distracted by amazing rock formations – like these stalagmites. I especially love those colorful ones with sweet faces.

{FIVE} Dogwood Canyon

dogwood canyon

One of our favorite spots, which we’ve been to several times before, is Dogwood Canyon. It’s a privately owned park that has bike and hiking trails, wildlife tours, archery courses, and (as you can see) tons of waterfalls. We rode bikes through the canyon this time, and it was so beautiful. We got lucky with the weather. It had just rained, so it was cooler than usual. The only downside was a little bike collision with Clara and Evan, but it wasn’t anything a little ice couldn’t fix. And it wouldn’t be an Andersen family vacation without someone getting a bump or bruise. Seriously.

We’re wrapping up our little getaway today, but it’s not as sad as it usually is on days like this because we’re picking up a new puppy this afternoon.

That’s right! We’re getting a Mini Goldendoodle puppy on our way home. Eeek! Wish us luck, and I promise to post all kinds of pictures of him as soon as I can get my hands on that sweet fur ball.

Here’s to an exciting (and maybe a little sleepless) weekend ahead!

-Kate

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Surprise Trip to Kansas City

Kansas City Fountain

One of the many fountains in KC. {via}

This past weekend our family decided to head up to Kansas City to surprise our friend, Katie, for her 40th birthday.

40th Mug

Witness my favorite 40th birthday gift. {via}

We didn’t surprise everyone, though. Katie’s husband had planned an exciting and fairly elaborate evening in the Plaza, and he invited us up for the shenanigans. You know we’re always up for that. Even if it was a last-minute decision, we couldn’t say no to a party – and especially one with these fun friends of ours.

Doomers Forever

We have a group of friends in Kansas City that we lovingly call The Doomers. The name was coined when we were all in a sand volleyball league together. The guys chose the name based on comic characters they watched when they were young.

While the name sounds menacing, like a group of ballers straight out of the volleyball scene in Top Gun, the truth is, we were more interested in the free pitcher of beer and endless laughter at the end of each game.

top gun volleyball

We were definitely not this intense – or tan.

We started the friendship as a group of 12 twenty-somethings with big dreams and significant others who eventually turned out to become spouses. We met every Thursday night in Westport for these games.

The venue was as interesting as our group. It was one-half beach volleyball club and other half country western bar complete with a mechanical bull. You’d find yourself in a shared restroom covered in sand wearing flip-flops (if not barefoot – so gross, I know) standing next to a beautiful woman dolled up in her pointy boots, tight-fitting jeans and perfectly teased hair. It all became normal as we made this a weekly thing. Each of us was faithful to the team – and to each other.

Over the course of 15 years, we’ve attended weddings, swaddled newborns, suffered the loss of parents, supported a divorce, and remained tried and true to celebrating milestone birthdays for each other.

Doomer kids

This is just a few of our offspring from several years ago. We’re up to 13 little doomers now!

When we were all turning 30, our friend Ovey started a tradition of engraving each person’s name on a silver mug on their birthday. We also had a disposable camera (that was when those were a thing. #oldschool). You had to take a picture of yourself on your birthday with the camera. After we all entered “Club 30,” we processed the film for the memories.

Now that we’re a decade older, we’re recirculating the mug, which may or may not have been lost at some point. When you have a group our size, things are bound to get lost.

Birthday Mug

This is a picture of Katie and her husband, Mark, enjoying the fruits of The Birthday Mug!

While a few of us have moved away from Kansas City, we seem to be able to pick up where we left off at any given moment. I’m so grateful the team of “Doomers” remains in each of our hearts – no matter how old we are.

Here’s to a lifetime of good friends!

-Kate

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