Friday Favorites: Twas a Week for Pink Pancakes

Welcome to Friday Favorites, my weekly post where I share what I’ve been loving lately!

I’m trying to push my daughter’s nap schedule from one long mid-morning nap to one long afternoon nap.  This is way tougher than I expected! She has thrown some fits like I have never seen before!!!  Anyone have any advice for a smooth transition from morning naps to afternoon?

Anyway, here are some things I’m loving lately:

Be a Treasure House of Happy Memories

Valentine’s Day was this week.  If you read the essay I posted on Wednesday, you already know that I look back on the silly holiday traditions of my childhood with great fondness.  Well, Carla May is still a little young for a “heart hunt,” but no one is too young for pink, heart-shaped blueberry pancakes!

This year, I took a cue from Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project(reviewed here) and planned a special holiday breakfast to start the day off on an extra special note.  Gretchen Rubin preaches to “be a treasure house of happy memories,” which is one of the approaches I am trying to take as a parent.

The Sopranos

Chatham and I are finishing up the last season of The Sopranos, which is arguably one of the greatest shows of all time.  The show follows the story of mafia boss Tony Soprano, but humanizes him in a way that no gangster movies had up until that point.  The viewer watches Tony deal not only with the business of the mafia, but also with raising his kids, fighting with his mother, and talking to his therapist.  The quality of the acting, storytelling, and production are absolutely incredible.

The Sopranos was produced from 1999-2007, and something interesting I noted was watching the technology progress as the series did (pagers in season one to cell phones in season 6).  I have thoroughly enjoyed being immersed in the drama of the Soprano family and I will be sad to finish the series.  The Sopranos spans 6 seasons and is available for streaming via HBO Go.

Egg Hunt at the E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center

I am so excited for the Nature Eggstravaganza event coming up next month at the E.O. Wilson Biophilia CenterLast Easter, Carla May was too young to really participate in any kind of egg hunt.  Now, she loves sorting her toys, so I can see her getting fully involved in collecting eggs in her basket!  The Biophilia Center also has a new exhibit specifically for the toddler set called the FLIGHT ZONE that we have not seen yet and are so excited to check out.

The Nature Eggstravaganza event is going to be great for children of all ages.  There are so many activities planned, including meeting the Easter bunny, participating in the “Egg Olympics,” meeting farm animals, and decorating eggs.  The Biophilia Center is one of my favorite places on earth (as I’ve mentioned time and time and time again), so I am thrilled to join in on the fun!  Click here to sign up.  It is $10/kiddo for non-members and only $5/kiddo for members.

How was your week?  What are your Friday Favorites?  What brought you joy?

Let me know in the comments below!


For more Friday Favorites, check out the blogger link ups with  ErikaAndrea, and Narci!

Forget Romance – Celebrate Valentine’s Day Like a Child

Valentine’s Day as a Kid…

When I was growing up, my mother was supporting four children with the salary of a starving artist (despite what you might think, rich artists are few and far between… living ones, anyway).  What we didn’t have in money for candy and store-bought Valentine’s Day cards, we made up for in enthusiasm and craft projects, and Valentine’s Day was our time to shine!

Creating an intricately detailed Valentine’s Day mailbox out of a cardboard box, construction paper hearts, and magazine collaged flowers that blew our classmates’ designs out of the water was the highlight of our winter.  We spent hours creating handmade Valentine’s Day cards for our friends complete with watercolor paintings and personalized poetry.

For breakfast, my mom cut our pancakes into heart shapes to start the day off on a festive note.  At school, we’d enjoy showing off our crafty creations, exchanging cards, and eating candy and cupcakes with our friends (what a great Wednesday!).

When the school bus dropped us off in the afternoon, we’d be greeted by my enthusiastic mother waving our first clues for our annual “Heart Hunt,” a scavenger hunt aptly named for the heart-shaped hints.  Now, I must tell you that my mother’s handwriting and spelling couldn’t get much worse, so not only did we have to solve the clues, we had to decipher them first.  How that scatter-brained woman kept four separate scavenger hunts straight, I have no idea!  The prizes at the end of the hunt were poor people prizes – things we needed like shampoo, a new toothbrush, or our favorite cereal (the store brand version, of course) – but the real prize was the adventure of the hunt itself and the joy of being with people we love.

My Point…

Valentine’s Day as a holiday is kind of awful.  It originated in ancient Rome as a Pagan ceremony in which women were slapped with goat carcasses in order to increase fertility (seriously, Google it).  Valentine’s Day in modern times is a source of anxiety for people of all walks of life, whether it is in the form of loneliness and FOMO (that’s “Fear of Missing Out” for all of you Gen X’ers and Boomers) for single folks or pressure and unfulfilled expectations for those in a relationship.  The holiday is a boon for jewelry stores, florists, and restaurants, but a bane for our pocketbooks and probably our happiness.

This year, I propose we celebrate Valentine’s Day like the group of people that actually enjoys the holiday – children.  Forget the romance and expense and expectations – bring on the laughter and silliness and time spent with the people you care about.  Sure, jewelry and flowers are nice, but you don’t need much money to create memories you will cherish for life.

Note: This essay first appeared in Destin’s finest publication The Beachcomber last week.

Do you have any special Valentine’s Day traditions?

Let me know in the comments below.


valentine's day

Monday Musings: Rain, Rain, Go Away

Welcome to Monday Musings, where I share some thoughts and some links I’ve been loving lately!

This weekend, we attended Carla May’s cousin  Mary Jane’s 4th birthday party and had so much fun!  The theme was a little kid’s dream, Paw Patrol Princess Pancake PJ Party, complete with a bounce house and a decorate-your-own cupcake activity – my sister-in-law sure knows how to throw a party!  My little weirdo was not a big fan of the bounce house and spent most of her time in the sandbox instead…

As I write this, we are on our 31st hour of nonstop rain and thunderstorms, and we may have already watched a movie this morning, and we may be going just a little stir-crazy cooped up in the house!  Before parenthood, I loved rainy days like this when I could just curl up on the couch with a book all day.  Now, I am using my daughter’s naptime to Google fun craft projects and rainy day activities for this afternoon… Oh, how times have changed!


Here are some links I’m loving lately:

How was your weekend?  What are you loving lately?

Let me know in the comments below!


Friday Favorites: Those Brain Cells I Lost During Pregnancy Still Haven’t Come Back

Welcome to Friday Favorites, my weekly post where I share what I’ve been loving lately!

It has been a crazy week!  Sorry I didn’t get a Monday Musings post out this week, but I have an excuse…

On Sunday night, I turned on the sink in my den to soak some stained laundry items in Oxiclean and completely forgot about it.  About an hour later, I walked in that room for a totally unrelated reason and saw that the sink was still running! There was about an inch of standing water all over the floor.  I turned off the sink, threw as many towels down as I could, and went back to the kitchen to feed Carla May dinner.  I have never been so anxious during my daughter’s bedtime routine!

Chatham had just spent the weekend as a solo parent so I could attend a Florida Wildlife Federation board meeting in Clermont, Florida.  He was watching the Superbowl with a good friend when the flooding occurred, and I did not want to ruin his night.  So rather than watching the first half of the game, I got down to business mopping up water with every single towel in the house (and some blankets, too!).  All I have to say is THANK GOODNESS our den floor is tile!

Yesterday we attended a special Valentine’s Day program at the Destin Library and it hit me that my baby is officially a toddler.  She was getting around the room on her own and interacting with other kids all by herself and she did not need her mama by her side…. until she started stealing another child’s shoes that is!

Anyway, here are some things I’ve been loving lately:

Color Coding Apps

I picked this tip up from Emily Ley (of Simplified Planner fame). She mentioned it on her Instagram as a suggestion to go along with the other tactical tips for simplifying life that she shares in her latest book (which I reviewed here). For people who have a sharper memory for color than for category, like me, color coding your apps will save you so much time! And it makes your home screen look so pretty!

Zippadee Zip Sleep Sack

Partly I’m sharing this with you as an excuse to post this adorable photo of my daughter snuggling with her doggies.  And partly I realized I have shared almost no baby products since I wrote my Colicky Baby Survival Guide. Well, the number one product I can recommend once babies get out of the newborn stage is the Zippadee Zip.

The Zippadee Zip is a wearable blanket that keeps your baby’s arms contained to limit crawling around in the crib and keep your baby warm.  We used this to transition from the swaddle and what an easy transition it was!  Carla May adores her Zippadee Zip now, and whenever she gets tired she will snuggle up to it and shut her eyes, even if I haven’t zipped it on her body yet.

Moment App

Ok, so I have mentioned this app before back when I talked about my goals for 2018, but I love it so much, I wanted to mention it again.  Moment is an app that measures and analyzes the time spent on your phone each day.  It shows you which apps you used most and even your usage over time.

This app, along with my week of unplugging and going social media free, have really changed my life.  I have gone from spending 3.5-4 hours a day on the phone to less than 2 hours!  And sometimes way less, like 30 minutes!  I don’t find myself reaching for my phone as often or mindlessly scrolling through social media feeds.  And every moment not spent on my phone is one more moment I can spend actually enjoying life with my family (because it’s out here, not in there!).

Florida Wildlife Federation

I mentioned the Florida Wildlife Federation back on Giving Tuesday, but since I just got back from our Board Weekend at the Oakland Nature Preserve, I thought I’d mention this great organization once again.  Every time I attend an FWF board meeting weekend, I look around at the amazing people involved with the organization, both on the board and staff, and am blown away at the incredible accomplishments these folks have made for the environment and wildlife in the state of Florida and across the country.

I love learning about environmental initiatives going on and how I can help.  If you’re interested in becoming an FWF member, click here, and if you’re looking for something you can do to help wildlife in America right now, click here to show your support for funding to prevent fish and wildlife from becoming endangered.

How was your week?  What are your Friday Favorites?  What brought you joy?

Let me know in the comments below!


For more Friday Favorites, check out the blogger link ups with  ErikaAndrea, and Narci!

Book Reviews: What I Read in January 2018

This list may look a little different than previous months, since there are more nonfiction books than fiction.  One of my goals this year is to read more nonfiction, and I have really been enjoying it so far!  If you have any great nonfiction recommendations, please share them with me!

My thoughts on each of this month’s reads are below, listed in order of when I finished each book (no spoilers, I promise).

Salvation on Sand Mountain – Dennis Covington

I have been meaning to read this book for years, so when Chatham got me a copy for Christmas, I finally got around to it.  Salvation on Sand Mountain is a deep-dive into the culture of the religious snake handling community in the Southern Appalachia region, specifically in the area of Northeast Alabama right around where I grew up.  This book was absolutely fascinating.  The author fully immerses himself in the snake handling community and shares his experiences in a totally nonjudgmental way.  Many of the locations mentioned in the book were familiar to me, leading me to the interesting revelation that all of this was likely going on right under my nose.

The Power – Naomi Alderman

If you follow book news at all, you’ve probably already heard of The Power, a book that made it onto more “Best of 2017” lists than you could shake a stick at.  This was my Book of the Month Club selection from October, and I finally got around to picking it up.  The Power is a dystopian fiction told through multiple perspectives.  The book follows the ten-year period after teenage girls worldwide develop the power to send electrical shocks through their bodies.  As you might expect, this development turns the gender power structure on its head, a change that is met by most with fear and resistance.  Alderman is a skillful writer who manages to propose big ideas without overwhelming the development of the characters and the plot. This story is violent, dramatic, scary, and sometimes disturbing.  It explores corruption and power structures in a similar way as the classic novel Animal Farm, while evoking feelings of other feminist dystopian literature like Louise Erdrich’s Future Home of the Living God(reviewed here) and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (reviewed here).  I finished this book with chills in my body and thoughts racing through my head.

Fire and Fury – Michael Wolff

Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House was heavily-hyped in the media, so when I finally got off the wait list at the bookstore, I bought it and started reading immediately.  I felt conflicted with this book.  Very few sources are willing to speak on record and the author’s note basically says that much of what is included in this book is hearsay.  So, I wasn’t sure on a statement by statement basis what was fact and what was exaggerated.   The publishers understandably rushed to print, but the result is sloppy.  I wish they had taken a few more months to correct typos and cite sources.  However, the book paints a believable portrait of an administration in turmoil and a leader who wasn’t fully prepared for (and probably did not even want) the role he assumed.  Based on the buzz surrounding this book, I expected it to make me angry at our president, but was surprised to find that I felt sorry for him.  Rather than supporting President Trump, the team of people surrounding him seem to be engaged in a Game of Thrones-style strategic battle amongst themselves.

This Must Be the Place – Maggie O’Farrell

This Must Be the Place is Anne Bogel’s Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club selection for February, and what a good selection it was!  This story reminded me so much of Jess Walter’s Beautiful Ruins (reviewed here), both in structure and tale, and it was also reminiscent of Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go Bernadette? (reviewed here).  The chapters bounce around in time and perspective from a variety of characters providing the reader snippets of the full story.   I don’t want to reveal too much of the plot, as I quite enjoyed going in knowing nothing and piecing the story puzzle together as I went along.  O’Farrell did a fabulous job describing the settings and developing the quirks and personalities of the characters.  More than anything, This Must Be the Place is a love story, and it was simply a joy to read.

Moms on Call: Toddler Book – Laura Hunter & Jennifer Walker

I used the Moms on Call sleep training and scheduling program to successfully transition Carla May from colicky newborn to sleeping through the night.  I forgot that I had ordered their entire set of books back in my sleep-deprived newborn state until I discovered this on the shelf.  I was hoping I might pick up a few tricks on discipline, something I am not very comfortable with yet, and I certainly did.  Some of the advice in here was not well-suited to my parenting style, but I did pick up a few gems.  One of the tricks I’ve already started implementing is responding to toddler “No’s” with “Yes, ma’am’s.”

Have you read any of these books? What was the best book you read this month?

Let me know in the comments below!


What have you been reading lately?  Check out Modern Mrs. Darcy for more book reviews.

FYI: If you decide to purchase any books from this post, I recommend you buy them from a locally owned bookstore if that is an available option for you.  If you decide to purchase from Amazon by clicking on any of the book covers from these book reviews, I get a small commission (at no extra cost to you).  Also, if you sign up for the Book of the Month Club (which I highly recommend) by clicking on any of the links in the book reviews, I get a free book. Thank you!

Friday Favorites: Unplugging to Recharge

Welcome to Friday Favorites, my weekly post where I share what I’ve been loving lately!

I am heading to Central Florida today for a Florida Wildlife Federation Board meeting at the Oakland Nature Preserve.  I am excited to learn about environmental initiatives that have been going on throughout the state.  I’m also kind of excited for a long drive alone so I can catch up on podcasts and maybe start an audiobook. Is that weird?

Here are some things I’ve been loving lately:

The Post

Like Dunkirk, The Postis a true story in which I did not know the history.  Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep star in this incredible political drama centered around The Washington Post’s 1971 publication of government secrets and the court case that resulted.  My favorite aspect of this movie was Meryl’s role as the female owner of The Washington Post.  Watching her character develop as a strong business leader in a time when women were rarely in positions of power was a joy.  This movie is nominated for the Best Picture Oscar and for the Best Actress Oscar (of course).

White Nail Polish

Both of my sisters-in-law live in New York City, which, as you probably know, is quite a bit more fashion forward than down here in the Florida Panhandle.  I often try to emulate their style choices and sometimes straight up copy them.

Over Christmas, Jane came into town sporting white nail polish, and I absolutely loved it, so of course I’ve been sporting white nail polish ever since and feeling chic #af.  I bought this shade from OPI.  It looks perfectly opaque with three coats of polish and stays on really well, too.

Unplugging from Social Media

I gave up Facebook for Lent last year, and was surprised to find how happy not being on it made me, so I deleted my account for good.   The more I read about social media executives and designers not using the very technology they built, the happier I am with that decision.  But, I’ve found myself recently spending more and more time on Instagram, Facebook’s sister site.

I thought long and hard this week about how much time I spend on the app or thinking about the app and was somewhat disgusted.  In typical Marilu fashion (see my experience with coffee here) as soon as I find myself becoming dependent on something, I cut it out of my life completely for awhile to reevaluate my relationship  with it.  Well folks, I temporarily deactivated my Instagram account as I reevaluate how I feel about it.  It’s been a few days already, and I have finished two books, gotten into multiple laughing attacks with my daughter, and have not missed it one bit.  And only three people have even noticed.

I’m sure I’ll reactivate my Instagram account at some point, because I love connecting with friends there.  But, when I do it will be with a fresh perspective after this much-needed break.

How was your week?  What are your Friday Favorites?  What brought you joy?

Let me know in the comments below!


For more Friday Favorites, check out the blogger link ups with  ErikaAndrea, and Narci!

My Favorite Fluffy Cardigan (and the prettiest wallpaper!)

Ok, I know I have mentioned this fabulous fluffy cardigan before, but I wanted to share it with you again!  I have been seriously living in this sweater this winter, especially when it got super cold here in Destin!  It is ridiculously soft and so warm.  I love the length, too, because it is perfect with leggings.

I styled the cardigan here with my favorite leather leggings from Spanx and a cute ruffly black top from Loft.  These leopard print block heels are a comfortable height and a perfect way to jazz up a neutral look.  This bag is a hand-me-down from my sister-in-law, and I’ve gotten more compliments on it than probably any other bag I own!

My favorite thing from this fun shoot is the amazing wallpaper!  My husband’s grandmother has the most beautiful wallpaper in her house, so I thought it would make the perfect backdrop for these photos.

Outfit Details:


Is there a fluffy cardigan or other item of clothing you’ve been living in this winter?

Let me know in the comments below!


fluffy cardigan

Monday Musings: On the Playground is Where We Spend Most of Our Days

Welcome to Monday Musings, where I share some thoughts and some links I’ve been loving lately!

My sister Callie came in town over the weekend, and it was such a treat to visit with her!  We took Carla May to two different playgrounds: the toddler station at the Destin Commons and the play area at Buck Destin Park.  She loved climbing stairs and sliding, and we had fun acting like kids again, too!


Here are some links I’m loving lately:

  • photos and quotes from women’s marches across the country that gave me ALL the feels
  • fascinating deep dive into the baby advice industry (I laughed out loud at so many relateable statements in here)
  • a case for instituting personal policies
  • a really compelling piece about unplugging from the media

How was your weekend?  What are you loving lately?

Let me know in the comments below!


Friday Favorites: A Good Week

Welcome to Friday Favorites, my weekly post where I share what I’ve been loving lately!

This has been one of those delightful weeks when I can successfully ignore all the housework that needs to be done and instead savor the time with my little girl (who took three steps and said the word “apple” this week!).   Seeking balance is a constant struggle for me (I’ll save my opinion on “having it all” for another post), but this week, I felt good.

Here are a few more things I’ve been loving lately:

Clinique 72-Hour Hydrator

I have had the dryest skin this winter!  So, when I was approached to try out Clinique’s new moisturizer, I jumped at the chance!  Clinique is the only skincare line that made a difference on  my face back in my acne-ridden high school days, so it is a brand I have used and trusted my entire adult life.  Their new hydration moisturizer is a fragrance-free gel that delivers moisture into your skin for 72 hours.  I have been using it for almost two weeks now, and I’ve noticed a real difference in the texture of my skin.  My skin is so happy!


Chatham and I watched this movie a few weeks ago.  I must confess I am not a big fan of most war movies, but this one was excellent!  I did not learn anything about the Battle of Dunkirk in any of my history classes (what can I say?  I got a rural Alabama public school education), but honestly, I think that made me enjoy this movie even more because I didn’t know what was going to happen!

I was so impressed with how the director and actors are able to convey the total desperation of the situation.  The character development is satisfying despite very little dialogue.  And, the cinematography was simply breathtaking. Dunkirk is nominated for EIGHT Oscars, including Cinematography, Director, and Best Picture, so basically, you need to see it ASAP.

Makeup Revolution Flawless Matte 2 Eyeshadow Palette

My sister got me this makeup palette for Christmas and I have used it every single day since (every day that I’ve worn makeup, anyway)!  The selection of colors is excellent and the pigmentation and texture of the shadows are really nice.

I’ve been playing around with some of the warmer tones (second column from the right) and have really liked how they look.  And the pricepoint is amazing for the quality of this palette!  Only $15 at Ulta!

Google Arts & Culture App

Ok, I’m pretty sure everyone with a social media account has already heard about this app, but just in case you haven’t: The Google Arts & Culture app has a database of artwork hanging in museums around the world.  There is a new feature within the app that allows you to take a “selfie.”  Google will match up your facial analytics with artwork to find portraits that look like you!

If you’re super interested, I listened to a podcast recently on what Google might be doing with all this biometric data they’ve gathered since launching this fun new feature – check it out here!


How was your week?  What are your Friday Favorites?  What brought you joy?

Let me know in the comments below!


For more Friday Favorites, check out the blogger link ups with  ErikaAndrea, and Narci!

Easy Baked Cheese Balls

easy baked cheese balls

If you are looking for an easy and delicious appetizer or snack using ingredients you’ve probably already got in your fridge, look no further!  These easy baked cheese balls are delicious and ridiculously easy to make.  I often double the recipe and we will snack on them all week.

To spice up the easy cheese balls recipe, add cayenne pepper or any other seasonings you think would complement your choice of cheese.  They make a great dish to bring to a dinner or party and would make an excellent Superbowl snack!

This recipe is one of my childhood favorites that originally appeared in the Peanuts Cookbook.


Print Recipe
Easy Baked Cheese Balls
Easy, delicious appetizer or snack using ingredients you probably already have in your fridge.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and spread parchment paper on a cookie sheet.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix ingredients with your fingertips using enough water to make a stiff dough.
  3. Roll dough into small balls.
  4. Place cheese balls on parchment paper about 2 inches apart.
  5. Bake until lightly browned (about 15 minutes).
Recipe Notes

Have you tried this recipe for easy cheese balls?

Let me know how they turned out in the comments below!



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