Monday, December 18, 2017

Coffee + Conversation

Happy last Monday before Christmas morning! This morning Madeline and I taking it slow before finishing up a few things at home to get ready to host Christmas. This has been such a magical Holiday season with her at the age to really enjoy some of the activities and have a slight clue as to what is actually going on!

I love this photo that her teacher sent me from school. She just looks so mesmerized by the lights and I think it is so sweet.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Holiday Home Tour 2017

Our halls are decked and we are ready to host Christmas in our home in less than two weeks. About a year and a half ago we moved into our current house from a smaller townhome with a completely different layout so I still feel like I am in the process of accumulating decorations but I definitely made some progress this year getting a few things added. So, without further adieu, let's step inside. 

For outside decorations, I am pretty classic. I like wreathes and candles in the windows and that is pretty much it. I was able to use a gift certificate a sweet neighbor gave me to purchase the wreathes and bows we needed this year since we only had three and the front door wreath from our old house. Now, hanging them didn't go quite as smoothly because the tops of the windows were painted shut by the previous owners but I got them up!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Our 2017 Christmas Card

This year I wasn't sure if a Walen Christmas card would actually come to fruition because we didn't book a family mini session. This has been a busy season for us and it was difficult to find any availabilities around Corey's work schedule and the travel we had planned for several friends' weddings this fall. Luckily, we have a great friend who does photography as a hobby and he so sweetly volunteered to run over and photograph us. We picked up some matching Christmas pajamas from a local mom who owns an online boutique and crossed our fingers for the best. Madeline wasn't super cooperative but I think they turned out so fun for this season of life we are in right now. 

For our cards we went with Minted. I am so pleased with the quality of the cards and there was a fast turn around. I also loved that they would print the addresses right on the envelopes for me so that they would be ready to stick in the mail as soon as the box arrived. I haven't used Minted before but I think I will every year from now on now that our addresses are already saved and they will be ready to go with just a quick edit of friends who have moved and the addition of new contacts.

To display the cards that we have received, I used the same method I did last year. I hung ribbon from the cabinets above our little kitchen desk. To make this easy, I used picture-hanging command hooks (the velcro-like kind) and put one piece on the cabinet and the other on the ribbon. Then, I hot glued little red clothespins. This makes it super easy to put back up year after year and I love having these cards from our favorite people out for me to see every day.

Stay tuned for a Holiday Home Tour later in the week. Happy Monday!

Linking up with Sarah. 

Monday, December 4, 2017

My Christmas List (+ Madeline's too)

The Christmas season is here and it certainly has had us very busy. Our home is decorated and I've switched all of the ornaments on our trees out for shatterproof for Madeline. I was feeling so ahead the game by already wrapping her presents and putting them under the tree but then I caught her unwrapping them! So now, I'm off to do it over again!

Corey and I have started a big construction project at our house and it is already well underway so we are foregoing Christmas gifts to each other this year in favor of some of the fun things we will need to purchase when it is finished but we will still be doing small gifts and I have a little wishlist of things I wouldn't be sad to show up from other family.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Coffee + Conversation

Happy Monday! If we were having coffee this chilly morning, we would be chatting about...

The trees are up at the W house. I put them up while Corey was traveling last week and enjoyed a couple evenings with a glass of wine and girly holiday movies. I purchased some cute shatterproof ornaments from Hobby Lobby for the bottom of the tree to hopefully spare my favorite ones from getting broken. I am usually firmly in the no Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving but we aren't hosting this year so I know I'll be happy to come home from Thanksgiving and have the house festive and decorated for Christmas. 

Friday, November 17, 2017


Over the weekend, I enter a new decade and turn 30 so I thought it would be fun to share thirty facts about me, especially since this little blog has been a bit neglected recently.

1. I grew up in a suburb of Charlotte after moving out of the city in second grade and my parents still live in my hometown, which I love since they are only 40 minutes from me now.

2. I knew I wanted to work in education from the time I was really young and would play school with my stuffed animals.

3. I attended college at Furman University, which is a small liberal arts school in South Carolina. Go Paladins!

4. I completed my master's degree in a super busy 13 months while teaching full time. I was engaged and didn't even attend my own master's graduation because I was in the middle of our move to New Jersey.

5. When I resigned my first teaching job to relocate, it was kind of a blind leap of faith because I didn't have a new one yet. I ended up being hired to teach intercity and it was so challenging but also really helped my career in so many ways.

6. I took a transfer after my first year and then taught in an amazing district the rest of my time in New Jersey. I loved it so much that I had a really hard time accepting that we were leaving, even though that meant I was coming home to the Carolinas.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Closet Wishlist (and what I'm wearing recently)

The weather in North Carolina has finally cooperated and it feels like fall at last. I have really enjoyed being able to pull out some favorite fall clothes and try out some new ines.

I have done a lot of shopping in recent months due to doing no shopping for two years when I was pregnant and then nursing. I have quite a few other fun things on my list still. 

The first is this peplum bell-sleeve top. It comes in several colors but I am loving the pink. It has a velvet tie in the back so I think it would look so cute with black leggings and over the knee boots or booties.

I am also loving this little flounce dress. It is much cuter and more flattering in person. I see it paired with cute booties or over the knee boots also. I love the purple and navy. This outfit would be perfect for Thanksgiving dinner.

Friday, November 10, 2017

5 on Friday

Happy, happy Friday! I am so glad that the weekend is here. The daylight savings transition has really worn us out around here!


This little girl has been having so much fun at preschool. They upload pictures every week and I so enjoy seeing her silly little personality come out in school. 

I made these easy, cheesy spaghetti squash boats this week and they were a hit. Madeline loved them and slurped up the squash noodles just like she does when she has regular pasta. I roasted the squash while simmering some lean chicken sausage, a jar of Thrive Market pasta sauce, and some spinach on the stove. Then stuffed that mixture in the squash, gave it a stir, and topped with 1/4 cup of cheese and popped them back into the oven. I am so, so picky about jarred sauces but I am obsessed with the Thrive Market sauces. No added sugar or crazy ingredients and SO yummy!   Also a lot less expensive than some of the other quality sauces that you might find somewhere like Whole Foods. I love an easy, healthy dinner.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Madeline - 20 months

Time really does fly when you're raising a child.

Our sweet Madeline is twenty months old right now and we are all settled into our two morning a week preschool program. We had a bumpy start to the year when she missed an entire week due to hand, foot, and mouth. But that's another story for another day.

Our schedule was kind of chaotic over the summer as we transitioned from two naps to one, balanced my doctors and physical therapy appointments after my accident, and I just tried to squeeze in work when I could. 

We all thrive on routine around here so I'm happy that we are back into one. Here's a peek at what our days look like right now.

6:30 My alarm goes off. I'm really trying to push that back to 6:00 but it's a work in progress. I make the bed, get dressed in work out clothes, and have a glass of water. I check social media and my work emails.

7:00 Madeline is awake. We have a diaper change then she has a sippy cup of milk and I drink a coffee. We turn on the news (sometimes Daniel Tiger or Peppa Pig) and play for an hour.

Friday, November 3, 2017

5 on Friday

Happy, happy Friday!


Halloween was so fun this year! Holidays just become so much more magical when you can see them through the eyes of a child. Madeline was a pink poodle. We took her trick or treating in our neighborhood, let her enjoy a couple M & M's and looked at everyone's costumes.


Madeline finished up another session of Music Together this week. She first started in January and she loves this weekly class so much. I just cannot recommend this program enough for mamas looking for something fun and developmentally appropriate to do with their little ones. 

Monday, October 30, 2017

Coffee + Conversation

Happy Monday! It's been quite a while - we have been super busy over here lately in the best ways so I'm just now settling in to catch my breath.

We have been traveling quite a bit for several weddings. This has been the year of weddings for all of our friends and it has given us such great opportunities to catch up with friends. Each of these were at beautiful venues from the mountains to historic homes to botanical gardens. 

At home we are finally finishing up our landscaping overhaul part 1. I have learned a lot about landscaping but most of all I have learned that I most certainly have a love-hate relationship with it. For most of the summer it definitely was more of a hate relationship but now that this project is nearing the end, I am so happy we did it.

Here's a recap - we removed several trees that were planted too close to the house or otherwise not hoeing properly because of there just being too many, removed some overgrown bushes lining our driveway and replaced with hydrangeas, hostas, and gardenias for a neater more symmetrical look, removed all but the foundation plants in our front landscaping because it was just too overgrown and super high maintenance (we will be adding some plants for color in the spring once those plants have had time to fill in from now having enough space), opened up our back yard by removing some hedges that were planted literally in the middle of it (???), and planted a row of privacy hedges at the true back of our property. It has been SUCH a project but the result is a neater more manicured look, a lot lower maintenance by removing what needed professional trimming 6-8 times a year, and a more open space to allow us to better use all of our property and room to add a swingset for Madeline in the spring. Here are some before pictures, as you can see there was just a whole lot going on. 

Monday, October 2, 2017

Coffee + Conversation

Happy Monday, friends. It is a beautiful Monday that feels just like October should in Charlotte today. We are all excited about that over here because I'm such a lover of all things fall. Candles, pumpkin coffee, chunky cardigans, and boots.

I apologize for my little hiatus. It was unintentional but we've been pretty busy around here. Madeline was sick for an entire week, which meant no preschool. This of course coincided with Corey's travels for work so I had very few moments to get anything accomplished.

We celebrated some dear friends who got married in Asheville last weekend after Madeline was sick and then I came home with the worst allergies. It was a beautiful wedding and a fun time with many of our closest friends.

We are also nearing the end of a big months-long landscaping project at our house. I am so excited to share the finished product and even more excited to not speak to a tree removal company or landscaping installer for many, many months.

This week we are looking forward to getting back into our routine post sickness and spending some time outside (in our nearly finished backyard) soaking in the beautiful cooler weather.

Very early this morning I was lying in bed while Corey packed for a work trip watching the coverage of the shooting in Las Vegas and my heart is just broken. I am just so, so sad that these things have gotten to be such a frequent occurrence in recent years. I am sending so many prayers to the families of all of those injured or lost and am so, so thankful to wake up with all of my loved ones safe and sound this morning.

Wishes for a happy and safe Monday for all of you!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Our Struggle is Part of Our Story

It was three long months ago that my mother-in-law came over to watch Madeline so I could run a couple errands and get a mani-pedi. I had planned some much needed mama relaxation time. I was coming off of what had been at the time the biggest month of my business since I began it a year ago. I had two new ladies I was responsible for training and was just feeling good. I felt the healthiest I had since having Madeline and honestly a bit before, too, and was just really content with life.

I was stopped in traffic drinking a Le Croix, having a trivial debate with myself about whether I should get hot pink or coral polish on my toes for that pedicure when I was hit from behind at a speed of 50 mph by a driver using their phone. There were no skid marks or evidence that the driver ever attempted to brake or slow down because they were looking at their phone.

One concussion, severe whiplash, and a fractured clavicle later I found myself staring at 9-12 weeks of physical therapy, countless hours away from my daughter and business, and months of modified workouts ahead of me. I felt so defeated. When fitness is your business, an accident like that can cost your family a lot. Not to mention how I physically felt and the hours upon hours I had to leave Madeline for appointments, x rays, and physical therapy visits.

Friday, September 8, 2017

5 on Friday

Happy Friday Friends! I'm popping in to share five quick thoughts from the week.

one: beach trip

We snuck in a quick little family beach trip for Labor Day weekend. Madeline LOVED the beach. As soon as we got out of the car and she saw it she screamed "whoa" and took off running towards the waves.

Our trip was quick so we are already looking forward to next year, however she did so much better than last summer with being flexible while traveling and she just loved the sand, which we knew she would dive she loves her sandbox at home, too.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

September Goals

I cannot believe that it is September but I am so very glad to see fall approaching. Madeline had her first day of preschool yesterday and we are back to music class today. It feels good to be back into some semblance of a routine because quite honestly, we've been flying a little by the seat of our pants since she dropped to one nap back in June.

One of my biggest goals for myself for the start of the "school year" is to be a little more intentional about my goals. I try to be fairly organized because I honestly could not accomplish mom-ing, working from home, and running our household otherwise. But, sometimes things that I hope to accomplish yet aren't essential to our day-to-day functioning get pushed to the bottom of the list over and over.

This month, there are a few specific things I hope to accomplish.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Shopping Guide: Back to Preschool

Yesterday, Madeline had a very successful Meet the Teacher at her pre-school. We are sneaking in a last minute beach trip this weekend and then her first day is next Tuesday. I am so excited for her to make some new friends, learn how to be part of a class, develop a little independence from mama, and for the sweet teachers to love on her. I'm honestly excited for the few hours a week to myself as well because balancing working at home with taking care of her and running a household can be a lot at times. Yet, my mama heart knows I am going to miss her like crazy during those few (six) hours a week she is in pre-school.

We chose a church-based preschool close to our house upon the recommendation of other moms in our neighborhood and community and were so fortunate to be accepted into our first choice. I toured many places last winter and loved this school so much that we only applied here and just crossed our fingers that it would work out.

We, of course, had to do a little shopping to prepare for the start of school. I will go ahead and clarify that I am aware that she will get her cute little clothes dirty. That she will spill food, get play ground mulch, play-doh, and paint all over them. We have a number of hand-me-down outfits that I purchased for pennies on our local mom re-sale page but of course we had to get a few special outfits and pieces, too, because she is only little once after all and the days of her wearing precious outfits like these are limited.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Skinny Grapefruit Mojitos (+ fun end of summer cocktails)

I am a big fan of a refreshing cocktail and mojitos are one of my absolute favorites. The only thing about mojitos, though, is that they can be so sugary. Having more than one can make me feel gross and they certainly aren't good for the waist line. But, they are so yummy.

One day recently, I was feeling the need for a cocktail and had a nice, fresh grapefruit staring at me from our fruit bowl in the kitchen and fresh mint from our herb garden. So, I decided to try out a skinnier version of a mojito with grapefruit. I really enjoyed it and Corey requested one of his own after taking a sip of mine, despite the fact that he thought it looked "girly."

Monday, August 21, 2017

Coffee + Conversation

Happy Monday! If we were having coffee today, I would tell you that I have absolutely no idea where the month of August has gone. It has totally flown by. It has been hot and steamy here in Charlotte, though, so I'm not totally hating to be a little closer to fall, though.

Corey and I celebrated our 5th anniversary last weekend. We traveled to St. John earlier in the summer for our "big" celebration and then enjoyed a nice dinner in Charlotte on the actual night.

We started with drinks at the Ritz Uptown and then headed to Bentley's on 27 for dinner. We had never had dinner there before and it was amazing.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Five Years

Today Corey and I celebrate our fifth anniversary. It is kind of surreal that we have been married that long, well past the newlywed stage at this point. That day five years ago was absolutely perfect in every way. I couldn't have asked for a more perfect wedding day but what's more important is that it symbolized the start of a life together and I feel so fortunate that Corey and I are able to do life together. Without a doubt, there is no one better suited to be my partner.

It has definitely not always been easy and some days, months, and even years have been better than others. But, that is what you sign up for when you choose to spend your life with someone - to walk by their side through all life throws your way and I'm happy to say that even five years later, I feel like I chose wisely.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Kale and Peach Summer Salad

Last summer we hosted our favorite neighbors from our previous neighborhood to grill out at our new house. One of our neighbors is a professional chef and he brought this incredible kale and peach salad along for the evening. I'm not usually a fan of kale but this salad totally transformed my thinking on that. It is seriously so good and nutritious, too! This is the perfect summer salad so I set out to recreate it this summer and it has been on repeat in our household. I can't promise this is exactly how our chef neighbor made it but it is pretty darn close and totally delicious. This is by far my husband's favorite salad and that really says something when he's constantly asking for it!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Coffee + Conversation

Happy Monday. If we were having coffee this morning, I would say that I want to go back and do the weekend all over again. We basically did a whole lot of nothing and I can't say that I hated it. Just lots of family time. 

On Friday night, we made steak, a great big salad, and shared a baked potato at home. Then, relaxed int he hammock in our back yard with a big glass (er couple glasses) of red wine and unwound from the week after baby girl went to bed.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Coffee + Conversation

Happy Monday! If we were having coffee, I'd probably ramble off a whole lot of randomness to you this morning. First up, did you know it is National Avocado Day? What is your favorite avocado recipe? Mine is an avocado halved, filled with organic salsa, and topped with a sprinkle of taco-blend cheese. Bake just until cheese is melted (about 5 minutes) and enjoy. Yum! I'm also trying desperately to like avocado toast. I know, I know. Everyone says its so good. I'm working on finding the right combo, but doesn't this one look amazing?

We had such a busy weekend today. Bridal showers, birthday parties, girls' nights, trunk shows, oh my. I love this picture of Madeline at her little friend's birthday party. She is such a water baby. She looks so concerned that her sweet little jelly shoe is falling off.

We celebrated one of my sweet friends in a bridal shower on Saturday. There are so many weddings in our friend group this year and I am so happy for all of them. Such a joyful time.

Today, I am planning to grocery shop and meal prep for the new fitness program I am starting today and take baby girl to the doctor for a little check up. And I have lots of work to catch up on during nap time. How was your weekend?


Friday, July 28, 2017

5 on Friday

Happy Friday! This has been such a busy week for us, with Corey out of town and various of appointments and such, but still so fun. Madeline is just the cutest age right now. I am loving it. 


This week we have enjoyed lots of park time. We tried to get out early in the morning because it has been just so hot but it is hard to keep a toddler inside all day. We enjoyed some sliding, swinging, and sandbox time. Her little sweet and silly personality shines through a little more every day and I just love watching it emerge. 


I did one last #nsale order and purchased another pair of my favorite workout crops (I posted about them earlier in the week) and then ordered a new pair of sneakers. I went completely out of my comfort zone with these white and rose gold sneakers. They're mush flashier than I am accustomed to so we will see if I like them when they come in.


I am excited to begin a new workout program next week. It is a three week rapid rebuild program where the workouts get a little more intense week by week and the meal plan dials in gradually. I've been able to work out almost every day since about three days after my accident but they have been very restricted, however both my doctor and physical therapist have cleared me for this program so I am super excited to get back into something a little more rigorous.


This was dinner last night - super easy, healthy, and a great way to use vegetables from your garden if you are growing one this year. This was a one-pan bruschetta chicken over noodles. They key is super fresh garden tomatoes and high-quality balsamic.


So, I am pretty sure Prime Now is the best invention ever. Corey was out of town this week and I realized after Madeline was in bed that not only had I just used the last night time diaper but that we didn't have enough milk for her whole cup in the morning. So, an hour an fifteen minutes later, a 120 pack of diapers, a half gallon of organic whole milk, and two pints of Halo Top arrived at my door. There is no delivery fee - just a tip for your driver. 

We are looking forward to a low-key night tonight before a super busy rest of the weekend. Do you have anything fun planned?

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Cajun Shrimp Tacos with Pineapple Cucumber Salsa

These tacos are so, so good for summer and pretty healthy, too. These were such a winner in our house for Taco Tuesday and are truly the perfect taco for hot summer weather.

To bring this delicious recipe to your house, you will need:  
  • 1 lb of fresh shrimp, de-veined
  • Corn tortillas

Homemade Cajun Seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 ½ teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1  teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Monday, July 24, 2017

Coffee + Conversation

Happy Monday. Today my to-do list is a mile long. Projects for work to finish, projects at home, prepping to host an event this weekend, meal prep, SO much laundry, and loving on my sweet girl are all on the agenda today. Good thing I slept right through my alarm, right?

We ended last week with a bang by ripping out all of the previous owner's landscaping at our house and really opening up our backyard. It is such an improvement but now we have to wait for grass to grow and make a few final decisions before it will have kind of "finished" look. I'm learning that with landscaping, and most home projects actually, I'm kind of an immediate gratification kind of girl. I'm having to channel my patience here but am excited to see what it all looks like in the spring.

The new blog design is basically finished but I'm still undecided what I want to do about the name, as I mentioned in last week's post.