Capturing my Child

Y’all – my boy is 2. He’s actually like 2 and 1/2, not that I’m counting. I’m counting actually because there’s something so, so sweet about the present life we live. It’s tiring and it’s trying and it’s completely too much (in every way possible), but it’s perfect you guys. They tell you all sorts of cliche things when you’re about to pop your first one out and it’s all true, but it’s all largely insufficient to describe the love you feel and the desire, deep in your gut, to create the best round of life possible for this additional human that springs into your life and suddenly completely redefines it.

So when I was at Target the other day I spotted this journal – and the fact that the cover – in gold letters reads “Don’t Let Them Tame You” with a leopard print on the side, completely sealed the deal. I’ve been wanting to get a journal for a quick second now because I’ve seriously got to capture this time in our life and the words that come out of this child’s mouth.


Because I never want to forget how we can hear him officiating basketball games from his crib as he falls asleep (foul, up high, basketball!!), or how the first thing we can hear him say as he’s mumbling to himself in bed in the early morning is basketball with a question in his tone (can we go play basketball?), or how he’ll randomly come up to us and give us a big squeeze and say I love you before he walks away, or how he imitates Mickey Mouse saying “Oh Boy!”, or how he can talk about airplanes for hours, how he laughs and loves to be in on the jokes, and how he wants so badly to be able to do everything the grown ups do.

Because I can’t believe that this boy…


Let alone THIS boy.

North Carolina Baby Photography

Has overnight turned into this boy…


Never let them tame you, my sweet, smart boy! You’re perfect just the way you are.

What do y’all do to keep the memories for your kiddos? I’m new to this whole parenthood thing … would love ideas on capturing the essence of their little whipper snapper of a toddler soul!


The Best Gifts for Men

Oh December. How I love thee. How I love thee infinity more now that I live in a climate with 70 degree December days. 😀 As Christmas get’s closer, I wanted to put a few fun posts together for holiday gift giving.

Added bonus – every single item sourced below is made in the U S of A. We’re all about supporting our local economy as much as possible, so domestic is always our holiday shopping preference! Today’s post focuses on the men in our lives 🙂 Here are some of the best gifts for men that I’ve rounded up.

Shop on!!

Gift Guide for Dad

Old School Men’s Bi-fold Wallet // Woven Silk Tie $49 // Frye Leather Conditioning Cream $9 // Field Note Portfolio $42 // Wood Flask $23 // Fullsteam Beer $4

Normally my list of best gifts for men (or my man) would circle around bike stuff, but after 3-years of getting him bike lights for Christmas, I thought it would be fun to switch it up with some new goodies 🙂

Gift Guide for Your Man

Wigwam Rebel Fusion Socks $13 // Steiners Slim Fit Tee $18 // Kiehls Essentials for Him $31 // Essential Shoe Cleaning Kit $16 // Beer Making Kit $40

What’s on your Christmas list? I’m starting to get a jolt to my system to finish up our shopping – I can’t believe it’s only a few weeks away!

No Other Babe Will Do

See, I thought I’d be this poised, confident, ready to take on the world pregnant woman. I thought that I wouldn’t worry, that I’d be certain in my ability to bring this boy into this world, in my body’s ability to carry him and my heart’s ability to provide space for him. But, quite frankly, I’m not. I’m scared. That I can’t do it, that my body will fail me, that I won’t be here for this baby from the first second he needs me. It scares me to the brink sometimes, just takes it all from me and shakes me to my core.

I thought I would be confident and brazen and ready, but I do worry. During my anatomy scan the Dr’s measured my cervix and found it was 3.2 cm – for the record – that’s totally normal. Anything between 3-5 cm, is totally normal. But I saw that low end of normal number and ever since then I’ve just been so damn worried that my body is going to fail this boy. That I’m somehow just not going to be able to get him to the entrance gate of this beautiful, wonderful life. A life I want so badly to share with him. A life I now, can’t picture without him.

Be Brave


I count down the weeks now until viability, when he’ll be able to make it outside of me if my cervix fails and he joins the party early. I know it’s probably irrational, but damn, do I feel it. If I have a night with more Braxton Hicks than normal, I totally freak. This is it, I think. You’re going into labor and baby boy won’t make it. All because your body couldn’t hold out a few more weeks.

So I worry, and I cling to hope and I create irrational dialogues in my head. Because, so badly, I want to be enough for this little boy. I want to be the mother he needs, I want my body to provide for him. I want him to come into our home and be happy and healthy. My heart has so much space for him, more than I think I know what to do with. I just need him here with us. I just need a happy, healthy baby home and here with us.



See the thing is, I know as this pregnancy progresses, that I more or less need to get used to the worry. The love you feel built up, the fierce love and deepest desire to protect this human – is so incredibly real. I know after he’s here that I’ll worry too. But God, is it a vulnerable love, and that vulnerability can just shake you sometimes. So as I inch toward the 3rd trimester (still 6-weeks away) – could I ask of all of you to send me some good vibes. I’m new to this mama thing and need all the extra strength I can get.

You Got This


Relay Race

One of the things we’re always trying to do better in our house is to buy our food as locally, and organically as possible. Here in Durham we’ve got some pretty sweet options for buying our grocery goods – there’s the farmer’s market, a little truck, portable market called LoMo market, and now there’s a new kid in town – Relay Foods.

Well lucky for us, since Relay Foods was new to the area, they were running an introductory special where we could snag $35 worth of groceries, for $15. I like food, I like a good deal, done and done.

Relay Foods Review

Lucky for all of YOU Relay Foods has a promotion special right now where y’all can snag a $30 discount on a $50 purchase. Yes, you did read that right – that means $20 for $50 worth of groceries – HUZZA!!

In our first order, we got an assortment of daily essentials, like eggs, meat, cheese, and bread.

Relay Foods Coupons

Our cheese and egg CSA that we had recently ended, so we were very happy to be reunited with some more delicious dairy 🙂

Coupons for Relay Foods

Along with our promo, they gave us a $10 coupon for some additional goodies. I couldn’t help it. The pizza crazed pregnant women in me went for the totally local, absolutely organic and oh. so. healthy. …. frozen pizza. Snicker.

Relay Foods Coupon

I also got some incredibly delicious organic peanut butter cups to go along for dessert. 😀

You better bet that pizza went into my belly promptly after snapping these photos 😉

Pizza Cravings During Pregnancy

Ready to try it and snag your $30 coupon? Get your shop on, y’all!

Relay Foods Coupon

Note: You need to be a new customer to take advantage of this promotion. If you use this link, I also, get a small credit on my personal account, with which, I will buy more pizza for my pregnant belly to eat. right. up. 😀

Baby Sell’s a ….

BOY! Mama intuition on this one – I’ve been pretty sure for a while it’s a boy 🙂


We’ve always known that we would name our little guy Henry if we had a boy. We thought about lots of other names, but in the end, I knew in my heart that this was the name. It’s a strong name and he’ll carry with him the legacy of a very good, humble, and gentle man.

When I was still a kid, my Grandfather passed away. I was little, but I knew what love looked like – I knew what it felt like. It felt like being safe, and happy and content. Like a tight, warm hug and a promise that we’ll see each other again soon. It smelled like coffee and buttered toast in the morning. It sounded like familiar voices talking at a kitchen table, and children laughing as they grabbed onto a cousin’s hand and headed toward the zoo. Some of the happiest memories of my life centered around my Grandparent’s little bungalow in Wisconsin. So much love filled up those walls.

As I grew, my Grandma became one of the most important people in my life. We watched as this amazingly strong women faced hardship with laughter, and taught us all that even in the face of immeasurable loss – there is still so much living left to do. She’s funny and kind, faithful and open hearted. Jay and I wanted so much to recognize her and my Grandpa and the wonderful legacy they’ve created. So our baby boy will be named after my Grandpa; in honor of him, in honor of their family and in honor of their love.

Henry Everett Sell


My hope for my little guy is that he always realizes how much living there is to do in this beautiful world. Embrace it little baby, take life by your hands and just embrace this bittersweet, beautiful world.

A song that always got me … for my little guy. Seemed fitting since we announced the name today. We love you so much nugget – we can’t wait to meet you soon!

Like the pine trees lining the winding road
I got a name, I got a name
Like the singing bird and the croaking toad
I got a name, I got a name
And I carry it with me like my daddy did
But I’m living the dream that he kept hid

Like the north wind whistling down the sky
I’ve got a song, I’ve got a song
Like the whippoorwill and the baby’s cry
I’ve got a song, I’ve got a song
And I carry it with me and I sing it loud
If it gets me nowhere, I go there proud

Moving me down the highway
Rolling me down the highway
Moving ahead so life won’t pass me by

And I’m gonna go there free

Like the fool I am and I’ll always be
I’ve got a dream, I’ve got a dream
They can change their minds but they can’t change me
I’ve got a dream, I’ve got a dream
Well, I know I can share it if you want me to
If you’re going my way, I’ll go with you

Moving me down the highway
Rolling me down the highway
Moving ahead so life won’t pass me by

Pumpkin Pie

We’ve got a soft spot for orange things in this household. Orange cats, especially. 😉 So now that it’s pumpkin season, we’re all about it. My husband is a renaissance man, and in addition to being Bob the Builder, he’s also Emeril the chef. Actually, he’s more like Paula Deen, since he prefers butta and sugar in his recipes 😀

Since it’s fall, this pregnant women has been craving pumpkin esq items, including the most delicious pumpkin bread known to man.

Fall Recipes

My Mom had a recipe that she shared with Jay a few years back and he’s tweaked it and changed it a bit over time. Best part, it’s super easy and it tastes like heaven on earth. Especially if it’s warm out of the oven with butter on it. Nom nom nom.

Here’s what you need, you probably have it all in your pantry, except the pumpkin, which is super cheap this time of year and easy to find.

Fall Recipe Ideas


  • Flour
  • Sugar
  • Brown Sugar
  • Salt
  • Baking Soda
  • Cinnamon
  • Vanilla
  • Butter
  • Pumpkin

Just mix in the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients separately.

Easy Pumpkin Bread Recipe

Looks super appetizing, now doesn’t it?

After that, mix these bad boys together and voila!

Simple Pumpkin Bread Recipe

Jay likes to add some brown sugar on top to give the bread a crispy (and delicious) crust. 🙂

Easy Pumpkin Bread

Get in my belly.

Easy to Make Fall Treats

We took the bread over to our friends house to share and it was gone in no time flat. The mister got some fall flavored beverages to go along with it.

Here is the recipe! Note, we did a half batch (1 loaf) – the recipe below will yield 2 loafs

Pumpkin Bread

3 1/2 cups flour
1 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt
Mix dry ingredients.

1 can pumpkin (15 oz)
4 eggs
1 cup melted butter or oil
2/3 cup water
1 tsp vanilla
Mix wet ingredients.

– Pour wet ingredients in the center of dry.  Mix together..
– Pour into 2 bread pans that have been greased & floured.
– Spread thin layer of brown sugar over all of the batter to create a crispy top
– Bake at 350 degrees for 45-1 hr, until a knife comes out clean.

It’s a Beautiful Ride

Last Thursday was a pretty big day for us. It was a surreal, nerve racking, is this really our life kind of day and in all honesty I’m still in a digestive state about it. Last Thursday we went to the doctor’s and heard a noise that pretty much changed things for us in an indescribable and forever kind of way. I can still hear it in my head actually, every time I close my eyes, I can still hear the noise just reverberating through my head. We heard a little baby’s heartbeat. A little baby that’s growing in my belly.

Even as I write this, it’s difficult to really take in the reality of the mack truck that’s currently hitting us. I can’t believe there’s a human growing inside me (isn’t that crazy), I can’t believe we’re going to be parents.

It all happened pretty fast, within a few weeks of starting this whole – let’s try to have a baby thing, low and behold we had a baby. Well almost. Baby’s on the way, hanging with the stork these days. The appointment, too – so routine and normal for the nurses. Heartbeat, check! Baby, check! All systems go, here’s your paperwork – do you have any questions. Yes, yes I do, but my brain can’t really formulate those questions right now, so I’m just going to smile and nod at everything you say.


So, we’re taking it in and doing what we can to get basecamp ready for another human. We’re excited, nervous, overjoyed, humbled, in awe, tired already, uncertain, ready, completely not ready, but totally in love with the concept of being a steward for another soul in this beautiful and fleeting life we have the privilege of walking through. What a gift – what a beautiful, wonderful gift. I’m so thankful for it!

One thing’s for sure – hearing that noise. Listening to that heartbeat, hearing that amazing sound, I was sure of one thing. That’s my baby, and I’m your mama. I can’t believe your inside of there (of me!), we really can’t wait to meet you!

Keep that heart beating, baby Sell! We’ll see you in April!!

And now for a few photo outtakes with our first baby!




Money Honey

It’s no secret that home ownership has a pesky habit of taking all your moolah and making you wonder where you put it. This house, well, let’s just say it’s been all that and more, on steroids.

It started with the basement, see ya later $3,500!

Fixing Basement Wall with Ramjack

Then we moved on to a furnace. In July. In North Carolina. Just where you want to be spending your dollar bills in the middle of summer. Farewell, $5k – nice knowing ya!

Converting from Oil to Gas

And now we’ve got our kitchen, which after appliances, new cabinets and counters, will be setting us back north of TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS. I may or may not be weeping as I type this.

Cortina Counter Top

The good news is, we’ve gotten a lot of big ticket, necessary items out of the way on the front end of this house, which gives us 1) more time to enjoy said improvements and 2) less concern that a big old expense is looming around the corner.

Ok, scratch #2. There are always expenses looming. 😉

The bad news is that in the last 3-months, it’s been feeling like we’re hemorrhaging green backs faster than we can replace them. And I’m not talking the George Washington variety, I’m talking the Benny Franklin crowd.

The last two months, we’ve had credit card bills over $10,000. Y’all, I made less than that two months of spending my entire YEAR of working the first year out of college. That’s a lot of money, it’s too much money and it was starting to freak me out. Like whoa.

Now most of this spending was planned. We sold our Ann Arbor house at a profit and we were able to use that money for a solid down payment on this house, along with a bit of extra cash to help with these known expenses we’d have walking into this fixer upper of ours, but still. It wasn’t something I felt comfortable with and I told Jay that starting in August a new sheriff was in town. 🙂

Downpayment on House

When we did sell our house, we took about 85% of the profits to pay a downpayment on our new home, and squirreled the rest away to pay for pending projects. Overall, I’m super glad we kept some cash on hand to help with some of the more unexpected extra costs that hit us (ahem, washer 2.0), etc.

Jay and I have always been really big savers, so luckily we’ve been able to pay for all these expenses from our savings, but truth be told, watching our savings account whittle down these last few months has been a bit frustrating. I know that they’re all temporary expenses and I know they’ll all improve the value of our property, but still – spending that much money is just hard for me to stomach, yo!

In general, our monthly breakdown of where the dollars go, looks like this.

Budget Breakdown

That little pie above has been our general budget since we’ve both been employed, and it works out great for us. We treat our savings account as a house slush fund, too, so it’s general $$ that we throw into our savings account each month to use for unanticipated + planned house/life/other expenses. We always keep a set minimum in there though, as an emergency fund.

Even when we have really bad months, where I’m slamming my head against the wall, I’m so thankful for a few things Jay and I put in place early in our marriage that have really be crucial to being pretty financially independent at 27 years old.

Steps to Financial Freedom

1) Live Off 1-Income: Ever since we’ve been married, we’ve always treated my income as our “non-essentials”. Jay’s income pays for necessities, mine pays for all savings. We started using this strategy early on in our marriage to pay off $30,000 in student loans, and just kept bank rolling it forward to pay for house down payments, car loans, etc.

2) Save Early, Save Often: Our first influx of money as a couple was from wedding gifts. Instead of going out and buying big ticket items – we put the money in the bank. We’ve followed suite since.

3) Pay off debt! I felt overwhelmed by the amount of debt Jay had coming out of college (nearly $30,000) – but by prioritizing our expenses and consistently placing needs over wants, we did it. In less than 2-years. Did I mention I made less than $20k my first job out of school?! We were not in fancy well off jobs – very normal – very moderate pay! Any tiny bit you can do, helps! We started payments at $50 a month (before legit jobs) and then started using my income to pay it off quicker once employed.

4) Simple Living: If I could give any new couple, or seasoned couple, one bit of financial advice it would be to live as simply as possible with a lifestyle where only one income is needed. In our 5 short years of marriage, it’s made such a difference for us. If you can’t pay for it in cash – don’t buy it! (mortgages withstanding…) 😉

5) Identify End Goal: Now – not everyone wants/needs to be Bill Gates, right? Jay and I know we’ll always be looking to live a modest lifestyle, so although saving is the name of our game, we’re not looking to buy a yacht, ya know? If that’s your goal – that’s awesome! But keeping your financial goals in perspective can help to keep you motivated and going strong.

Creative Ways to Add To Income


One last thing I’ve found to be helpful with financial security – ya got to learn to hustle, y’all! Get creative! Figure out something special you can offer to generate extra income. Sell stuff on craigslist, babysit or do lawn work for neighbors, open an etsy shop.

Along that vein, last month was a really big month for me with my design business. As of the end of August, I’m going to be bringing in almost as much as I was making when I was working full-time. Whoa. Crazy, right?! It’s exciting, and it’s also been a bit overwhelming to learn how to balance the demand that I’m getting for my interior design service. I’m totally humbled, and definitely up to the challenge, but it’s been a pretty crazy ride this month – that’s for sure! Although it’s never easy to start a business, it is very rewarding to see what some hard work and dedication can do over 6+ months.

This is our first full month of being back on track, and I’m happy to report that our financial situation is finally back where it needs to be to keep us in the black. No more kitchen renos or furnace replacements for a while, that’s fo shizzle.

How do you guys keep your finances on track? Any tips and tricks to get into good financial shape?

Migrating Migraines

Moving has never really daunted me much. I guess we were always moving up, moving on, creating a new future and a new beginning. It was always exciting and it always felt right. Our move to NC was no exception, in fact I think more than any other move before it, this one solidified for us that we were on the path we knew we were meant to be on. We were creating the future we’d always imagined and man was that liberating. Taking that dream out of our hearts and putting it into our heads – it was the gutsiest, bravest and boldest move we’ve ever made as a couple and I’m thankful every day we woke up with that strong conviction one morning and just made it happen. But this move was definitely more tiring, and definitely more overwhelming than the rest. Not going to lie, there were a few times I wanted to just throw in the towel and give up. Perhaps it was the whole cross country bit, or the whole new jobs bit along with it, but you guys – I’m still re-cooperating 4-months later.

We’ve actually owned (and moved into!) 3 homes, in the last 4 years. What kind of crazy are we?


We’ve learned a lot on this journey though. Even more so this time around with the whole out of state relocation. Some costly mistakes, some just costly realities that couldn’t be avoided. Now that all the dust has settled, I thought everyone else could more or less benefit from peering into the hard truth of some of the things we flubbed on house hunting/buying/living 3.0.

1) When you’re moving cross country, don’t plan on moving right into another house

This one cost us $500 and a tear or two. Looking back, we were so overwhelmed with everything else going on in our life (selling the Michigan house, finding new gigs, traveling down every other weekend for 12+ hour drives between MI and NC) that we saw a house we thought could work, and we jumped. It wasn’t until we came back to sign the paperwork for proceeding that we started to take a closer look at the house and realized, much to our dismay, that this place was just not right for us. Crap. The bad news, we had already entered a contractual agreement that basically said we’d owe a fat $500 big ones if we backed out. The good, we avoided buying a house that we just didn’t see ourselves in for the long haul.

Durham Real Estate

Although the house was as cute as a button, we realized when we went back to see it that the backyard was positioned up on a hill, looking over a busy thorough fare. This led to lots of car noise, so, we passed.

Lesson Learned: Chill yo jets.

Road Noise Behind House

2) High Maintenance Buyers

So, I probably should have seen the writing on the wall with this one after we had a few crazy requests thrown at us during the closing process, but the people that bought our last house. Ummm – they’re sorta high maintenance. 😉 Now our house sold and was closed on in less than 3-weeks. A lightning fast, where do the hours in the day go 3-weeks. And we are SO LUCKY that our house flew like that, but even for minimalist non-packrats like us, getting everything packed and loaded in that time period was, well, tight. The final night before we moved out we were totally scrambling to get everything cleaned up and ready for the next group. By the end though, I’d hand washed the floor and everything looked pretty darn nice. Certainly 10-times nicer than any other of the 3-homes we’ve moved into on moving day, but ya know, that’s all relative.

After we we’re already chilling down here in NC, I get a call from our Realtor on closing day saying the buyers are NOT happy with the house’s condition. They’re biggest complaint was that there were crumbs in the cupboard. Oye. Yep, probably were crumbs in the cupboard. Dang, must have forgotten that. They asked for a $250 cleaning fee to cover it. Which made me snort laugh, but in the name of, ya know, not wanting our sale to fall through over this level of ridiculousness, we obliged.

Lesson learned: Clean yo cupboards, or be prepared to pay up.

Moving Checklist

3) Contracts, Dang They’re Pesky

So … contracts. Yes, they’ve bit our behind more than once. Now in hind sight, this was a very easy one to avoid. Very easy. But y’all, life was moving so fast at us when we moved down here that it turns out, we missed some more fine print. Now, I went into this a bit before, but I really don’t think this one is all on us. But, sadly, we do hold some blame – enough blame to cost us another cool $650. Uggh … when I start adding these digits up I get certifiably depressed about it.

Coming off of home ownership, and only renting apartments during our college days, Jay and I were kinda clueless about apartment dwelling. So we got burned big time when our apartment failed to tell us that we need to provide 30-days notice, for our 90-day lease, in order to avoid an extra month carrying cost. Since we just signed on the dotted line and rushed to grab our keys, we missed this important detail that was so SO easy to avoid.

Lesson Learned: Read yo contracts

Empty Apartment

4) Moving Furniture

My final lesson. Seriously – sell everything you own before moving. Perhaps we’re the world’s worst packers, but I don’t thing they’res a single piece of furniture that didn’t get damaged, in some way, during our move. Scratches, stains, you name it. Now, it certainly did not help matters that it was raining cats and dogs when we went to load in all our stuff into the apartment, but we had to throw away and or sell at a significant discount and tons of our goods. In my mind, I did sell off all my worldy belongings before we moved, but if I could do it again, I’d grab a suitcase, fill it up, and get on that plane with only the items I could carry. Ok, right, that’s a slight exaggeration, but lordy, I would NOT be hauling down some of the items we did.

Lesson Learned: Sell yo furniture 

Damaged Furniture From Moving

Anyone else have nuggets of wisdom to add to this list? I’ve been channeling Cher an awful lot lately around here … If I could turn back tiiimee.

Currently Loving // July

This week has had lots of exciting updates on the house (think KITCHEN!), but nothing is quite ready for prime time yet, which is what inspired this quick snapshot of what I’m loving down here lately. A summer inspired love fest.

Summer Wish List Notebook // Makeup Bag // Pelican Tray // Bee Soap // Necklace // Blouse

Since shopping for Jay  is lots of fun, too, I put together some mega Man-candy-must-haves.

Gifts for a Meat Eating Man Beef Jerky Gift Pack // NC Local Brews // America Cutting Board // Pig Picture // NC Cycling Shirt // Biking Beer Opener 

How are the temps where you are right now? Are things starting to cool off yet? I’m the kind of person that likes to be hot in the summer time. I don’t want to worry about grabbing my hoodie for chilly evenings, I want to walk around in my tank top and shorts all day and feel the sun shining on down. And ya know, that’s probably why I moved my booty south. 😉

Psst! Don’t forget to enter this week’s giveaway, it’s the last day! Enter here.