Friday, March 30, 2012

the thank you note project

Remember my post about the power of thank you?  Earlier this year, I read a book that changed me.  A Simple Act of Gratitude: How Learning to Say Thank You Changed My Life by John Kralik.  You can pick it up at Amazon for about $11.  That's two lattes.  This book is totally worth two lattes.  Trust me. 

It's about a man who is in the very worst position of his life.  His career, marriage and relationships are failing.  He sees no hope at all.  His friends are concerned about him.  And then he has a revelation.  On a hike one day, he hears a voice that tells him to be grateful for what he already has.

He resolves to spend the next year of his life writing thank you notes.  By the time he has written 365 of them, his life and his perspective on it have been completely transformed.

He writes them to his children, to the Barista at Starbucks, to the janitor of his apartment building, to the wife he is divorcing and hundreds of others.

The point is, when you look for things to be grateful for, you find them.  Hundreds of them.  And genuine gratitude powerfully changes you.

The book inspired me.  So much that I decided to take on my own thank you note project.

And so...

It's officially begun!!

This Monday 3/26/12, I started with my first thank you note.  It was included in the care package we sent overseas.  Since then I've written 3 more.  Every day for 365 days I plan to keep writing one more.  I have no idea who I am going to write 365 thank you notes to, but that's the point.  I will look for people to write them to and I know I will find them.

Some will be hand delivered and some will be mailed.

Some will be to people I know and some will be to strangers who don't even know my name.

Thank you note #4 was written yesterday to YOU, my sweet blog readers.  I can't really mail it or hand deliver it, so I took a photo so that I could share it with you here.

It says...
"Thank you for reading this blog and joining me on this journey.  Your sweet comments, encouraging notes and friendship mean so much to me.  I am truly grateful for each of you. xoxo Amber"

Each day, when I write my note, I type it into a word document so that I can correct any grammar or spelling.  So, essentially, when I write the note, I am copying from my word document.  I type the date beside each entry and this will become a journal of this project.  I think it will be fun to look back through it and recount all of the gratitude that filled the year. 

I am really excited about this project.

I would love for you to join me in the thank you note adventure.  I am confident that only good can come from gratitude.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

what to say to a sailor {if you're 8}

I know I've mentioned it before, but I have really been trying to find ways to get my kids {especially our 8 year old} to find their place in a big world, by recognizing just how big the world is and by doing for others.  You can read about our first two projects here and here....

We decided that the next project on the list would be sending a care package to the troops overseas.  Our old neighbor and friend is in the Navy and is currently on a long deployment.  I thought it would be fun to send him a box of goodies.  We took the boys last weekend and shopped for trail mix and snacks and magazines and Starbucks via coffee packs.

And...we were also able to add something very special to the box, thanks to the willingness of Reid's teacher, who offered to have the class join in our little project.

All of the children in Reid's 2nd grade class wrote a letter to a sailor.  Reading the letters, I had chills.  They are so adorable and innocent.  Children are just so naturally sweet and they just say what comes to mind.  It's not "practiced" like a letter from an adult would be.  I loved them all. 

I copied them below because I thought they were just so sweet.  Most of them introduced themselves with their name and school and some of them wrote where they live.  I omitted those parts.  Except that first one. He's MY boy ;) 


"Dear Sailor, Thank you for our freedom.  I hope you got my mom's food bag.  My name is Reid.  I am 8.  I like legos.  What is your name and are you a boy or a girl?"

"Dear Sailor, Thank you for fighting for our country.  I hope you come home soon and safe.  I am in second grade.  I love my teacher so much!  I am in Brownies.  I hope you got the cookies!  Please write me back."

"Dear Sailor, Thank you for fighting for our country.  I hope you come back to land with your family.  Thank you for our country's freedom.  My class is so thankful for you, your the one who saves our country.  My class says I'm the fastest runner in my class.  I have one brother.  Please write me back."

"Dear Sailor, Thank you for fighting for our country.  I hope you come back safe.  I am 8 years old.  I like to play football.  I also like skateboarding.  Do you like to play football?"

"Dear Sailor, Thank you for fighting for our country.  Do you like cup cakes?  Are you a boy or a girl?  I am a boy.  Do you get summer off?  Please write me back."

"Dear Sailer, Thank you for fighting for our people and our country.  I hope you come back not injured in the war.  What is your name?  Is it hard being in the Navy?  Is it cool being in the Navy?  I like to play soccer at my house.  Do you like to play soccer at your house?  It is a fun sport.  I have a dog and brother and 1 mom and dad.  I'm in 2nd grade.  I'm 7 years old."

"Dear Sailor, Thank you for fighting for freedom.  I hope you come home safely.  I hope you are doing a good job in the war.  Thank you for freeing our country.  Is your ship big?  Do you sleep during war?  Do you sleep in your ship?  Did you get any girl scout cookies?  Did you get lots?  Did you Tagalongs, Samoas?  Any others?  Are you a boy or girl?  Please write back."

"Thank you for fighting for our country.  I hope you come back safe.  I am seven years old.  I turn 8 on March 25, 2012.  I like to play soccer."

"Thank you for fighting for our country.  I hope you come back safe...I like to draw a lot."

"Dear Sailor, Thank you for fighting for our country.  I hope you return home well.  What is your name?  How long have you been fighting?  Please write back."

"Dear Sailor, Thank you for fighting for our country.  I hope you come back safe.  I am in 2nd grade.  I like to bike and skateboard.  Please send me back a letter."

"Dear Sailor, Thank you for our freedom.  Do you miss your family?  Are you a girl or a boy?  I am 7 years old.  I am in 2nd grade.  I am in brownies."

"Dear Sailor, Thank you for fighting for our country.  I hope you come back safe to your family.  I hope you got my thin mints.  I am in Brownies.  Please write back."

"Dear Sailor, Thank you for fighting for our country.  I hope you come home safe.  I hope you are doing good."

"Dear Sailor, Thank you for fighting for our country.  I hope you see your family soon.  I'm in second grade.  I like soccer, skateboarding, and basketball.  I'm eight years old.  What do you like to do?  Please write back."

"Dear Sailor, Thank you for fighting for us.  I hope you come back safe.  I'm eight and a 1/2 years old.  My favorite colors are pink, purple and blue.  I'm in second grade.  My three favorite people in my life are my four year old brother and my mom & dad.  My favorite food is rice.  Can you please write back?"

"Dear Sailor, How is your boat?  What country are you in?  I am 8 years old.  I like school."

"Dear Sailor, Thank you for fighting for our freedom.  I hope you win the war and come home safely.  I am in 2nd grade.  I love to read books."

"Dear Sailor, I'm thankful for you fighting for our country.  I hope you come back safely.  By the way, my name is _____.  I'm in the second grade.  What do you usually eat?  Write back please."

"Dear Sailor, Thank you for fighting for our freedom.  I hope you stay safe on the ship.  I hope you are doing great.  I am in second grade.  I am 8 years old.  I am a Brownie. I hope you got 7 boxes of Tagalongs.  Somebody bought cookies for the troops.  Please write back."

Dear Sailor, Thank you for fighting for our country.  I hope you come back safe.  I am in second grade."

"Dear Sailor, Thank you for fighting for our country.  I hope you come back safely.  I am a boy.  I am in 2nd grade.  I like to play video games.  I love reading books."


The boys also made paintings last weekend that we included in the box. 

Reid's says "Thank you for freedom."  He makes me proud.

I love this little journey we've started with the kids.  It's amazing how fun and rewarding it is to work on these projects as a family.  As we keep going, my hope is that my kids learn to see that we are all part of a great big world and that there is joy in helping others and looking outside of ourselves.  

I hope it cultivates generosity and kindness in them and that they grow into young men who care about other people. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

tuesday randomness via instagram

Is it really Tuesday again??  Already?  That happens so fast every week!

Just in case you're new here, each Tuesday I share a few random pics from my instagram app.  Just moments from our week, captured on my phone. 

I hope you all enjoy the peek into our day to day!

A big jar of plum colored stock that we picked up at Trader Joes.  The vase was on the coffee table for about an hour while Grant napped, but then it got moved to the dining table where it was out of reach of little curious 2 year old hands.  It was gorgeous while it lasted though!

It's been a really long time since I was able to keep anything pretty on the coffee table.  Oh well.  They still look good on the dining table.

My handsome men in their button down shirts.  Love those guys. 

The Grace is typically three kids names, but I love how this customer made it into a family necklace with mom and dad on the largest layer.  {this is the Grace in the hammered texture, but it's hard to tell in this pic}

We went to feed the ducks one day last week.  Grant loves the ducks.  It's so sweet to watch him.

Reid and his friend Antonio throwing bread.  I think feeding ducks is one of those things you never outgrow.  Heck, I still get excited about it!

I've been layering a lot lately.  This is the Cameron, layered with a chunky {cheapie} necklace from Forever 21.

And here's the Sydney {minus the key} layered with a longer, costume piece. 

And here is my photographer!  Ha!

I snapped this while sitting in Mark's office.  His bright yellow surfboard hangs from the ceiling.

Reid's muddy cleats.  Already?  Didn't baseball just start?  Can't we keep anything clean and sparkly and mud free?  Umm, no.

Grant met a new little friend at Reid's game last weekend.  Chasing a 2 1/2 year old around the sports park for an hour and 45 minutes while trying to watch Reid play wears me out!

Stacks of London Reid makes me happy. 

Reid at bat.  Ironically he is wearing #4 this season {my lucky number}.

The view of the field from the opposite side {where I was chasing Grant!}

If I am giving a gift card or cash, I always tie a bow around the envelope so it feels more like a gift.  Mostly, I just enjoy wrapping things. :)

More random thoughts...

The sun is finally back.  I got to wear sandals yesterday {yay!!}

Reid has modified days all week at school, which is making our schedule of running around insane.

I have had a sore throat for 3 or 4 days now, which I am trying to pretend is not strep...hmmm.  I think I can...I think I can...I may actually have to break down and go to the doctor.  My least favorite thing ever.  Boo.

I am thinking of doing this art project with the kids one afternoon this week.  Anyone tried it? 

We have lots going on right now.  {I feel like I have been saying that for the last 10 years?}.  But, this, like every other, is a busy season in our lives.  I have been going non stop until I fall into bed.  When my head hits the pillow every night, I think "Wow.  This is the first time I've stopped moving today."  I could use a nap...and a massage.  Okay back to reality...

I am getting super excited about the thank you project...more on that later this week.  I can't wait to share it with you!!


Have a great Tuesday Friends!

Monday, March 26, 2012


I love Sundays. 

They are so relaxing.

And lately it's been the only day of the week that we all get to be home and spend time together.

We got up early yesterday and went to church, then out for bagels and coffee afterwards.

Reid had a baseball practice in the afternoon and Grant went down for his nap, so I spent some time in the workshop packaging orders.

Once the big boys were home, it was pouring rain, so we had a little family art time.  Finger paints and water colors and crayons.

.  It was quiet and there was no tv and we just had fun laughing and painting and being together.

Grant's masterpiece.  He was going for an abstract look I think. ;)

And Reid's.  It says "Thank you for freedom"....It is headed somewhere special.  More on that later in the week.

This is what I painted.  I totally stole the idea from Meg.  She was right.  It is super relaxing to paint a page of rainbow hearts.  It was good rainy day therapy.

We made chicken breasts stuffed with goat cheese and basil for dinner.  It's Barefoot Contessa and it's super easy and super delicious.

Mark and I cook together a lot.  He is super helpful.  He will usually go ahead of me and preheat the oven and get all the measuring and prep done if he knows what we're having.  We are a good team.

Here is the simple recipe for the chicken: 

First, you will need:
Bone In, Skin On Chicken Breasts
Montrachet Goat Cheese {the little log kind that they sell in the deli/fancy cheese area of the grocery store}
Fresh Basil Leaves
Olive Oil
Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper

Step 1: Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Step 2: Place one or two rounds of goat cheese and a large basil leaf under the skin of each chicken breast
Step 3: Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper
Step 4: Bake for 40 minutes 
Serve it up!
{I told you it was super simple!}

PS...Cutting the goat cheese into rounds is much easier if you use waxed {unscented} dental floss.  Wrap it around the bottom of the goat cheese log and pull both sides down.  It will cut cleanly and not crumble.

We always serve this dish with rice pilaf.

You can find Ina's recipe here and read all the reviews too. 


It's supposed to be nice today.  I hope so.  I'm ready for the sun. 

I hope it's a sunny and beautiful Monday in your part of the world!

Friday, March 23, 2012

just in case you didn't win...

If you didn't score some free bling with this week's giveaway, not to worry!!

This weekend {Friday 3/23/12-Sunday 3/25/12}, you can snag a Nana, Liberty, or Zoe necklace for 20% off and FREE domestic shipping!!  Whoop!!  I have temporarily edited the pricing on the website so no discount code is needed.

Hurry, hurry, though because pricing will go back to normal on Monday.

The Nana necklace is now just $59 {with free shipping} 

The Liberty is just $54 {with free shipping}

And The Zoe is just $46 {with free shipping}


Thank you again for all the sweet feedback and blog comments.  I am thrilled that you all love the new designs as much as I do!! 

Happy weekend everyone!!

Thursday, March 22, 2012


Thank you to everyone who entered Monday's giveaway.  I really appreciate all of your sweet feedback!  The offical winner {chosen via} is...

Dakanak,who said:

" love the NANA necklace. Seems like I'm always trying to find something special to give to my mom - but what can you give someone who already has everything? That's why I love this design. My mom loves her grandkids and this is something that can spotlight her joy in them. She'll LOVE this for a gift. Who wouldn't?"

Congrats!  Email at and I will get you all the info to get shopping!!


And, if you didn't win...come back and check the blog in the morning!  I have a little surprise in store!  Don't miss it!

it's more fun to play in a clean room {the mommy chronicles}

It's so much more fun to play in a clean room.  And less stressful.  And no one trips.  And it's easier to get tucked in at night when the bed is made and sheets aren't in a big wad on the floor.

But...getting Reid to clean his room is a whole other story.  Or make his bed.  Forget it.  I have nagged, pleaded, threatened, and bribed.  It doesn't work. 

And when Reid's room is a messy junkyard, it stresses me out.  Plus, he doesn't enjoy playing in a messy room, so he avoids it.

So, this week I gave up the battle.  I decided that, while it may go against the grain of teaching him to be responsible for his own space, I will do it.  Myself.   Every day.  And I have. 

Every morning, after he goes to school I make his bed, put away his toys and clothes, and open the drapes.  It is so refreshing when it's all tidy and clean.

And, when he comes home from school, his attitude is much improved.  He enjoys playing in a clean space, and he enjoys reading in his bed at night when the covers are all tucked in how they should be instead of in a jumbled mess.  He appreciates the kindness and thanks me and it breeds positive feelings and reinforces the fact that I love and care for him.  At 8, I think that is more important than learning "responsibility".

The bottom line is less stress = more joy.  If I get to enjoy my kids more, and they get to enjoy their space more, it is totally worth the 5 minutes it takes.

I am confident that he will eventually learn to make his bed and clean his room.  If it happens at 10 or 11 or 15 instead of 8, I am totally fine with that.  I don't plan to waste my precious time with him arguing over a made bed or a clean room.  I'd rather spend my time enjoying him instead.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

tuesday randomness via instagram

Hey there!!  Happy Tuesday!!  Each Tuesday I share a few snaps from our week...little moments of randomness captured on my instagram app.

This app has made me so lazy....the fact is I hardly EVER bust out my big fancy pants camera anymore.  It's just so much easier to take a quick picture with my phone.  I need to be better about the big camera thing...oh well.

Ready for this week's insta pics?  Here we go...

I spotted this vintage chair in an antique at first sight.  That pillow too.  I've been back several times to visit...sigh.

Somehow Reid convinced my mom to play Wii.  I came around the corner and just started laughing.  My mom isn't really all about video games.

Grant loves to dig around for treasures in Reid's room while Reid is at school.  I was doing dishes and turned around to find...oh hello Clone Trooper.

This sweet love note came across my fax one day last week.  In French no less.  Holy cow.  My husband is pretty amazing. 

Getting ready to head out.  I love this sweater on him.  Grant loads up both hands with matchbox cars every time we get in the car.  It takes me 30 minutes at the end of the week to clean them all out. 

Green cookies and milk to celebrate St. Patty's Day.

Lasagna = Comfort.  Yum.  This is The Pioneer Woman's recipe.

The boys decided they wanted matching shoes.  My sweet little men.  I snapped a pic while we were still in the store because I knew they'd be dirty within the hour.  And I was right!  Ha!

I got a pedicure last week with this new Essie polish called No More Film.  I loooove it.

Ranunculus in bloom.  These may be one of my new favorite flowers.  I need to head back to Trader Joe's and see if they still have them.

Reid was the top fundraiser for his grade level for the school Jog-A-Thon.  He received a certificate and a $25 gift card to Target.  He was pretty pumped.

A leprechaun catcher the boy made at school.

One of these kids doesn't belong in the bath!  Hmmm...

A shabby dresser I spotted last week.  I would love to paint something similar to this and put in it our tiny entryway as a little catchall.

Pretty clouds over the pier.

Mark took this last night from the deck upstairs.  Love the silhouette of the palm against that orange sky.  You can just make out the pier at the bottom of the pic. We are spoiled with gorgeous sunsets around here.

Twins!  They are alike in EVERY way.  It's crazy. 

I spent a rainy afternoon last week cozied up in an armchair with my laptop in front of the fire.  Can you see me in the screen?  Ha!

Happy Tuesday Friends!

PS If you haven't already, be sure and enter the giveaway from yesterday!!  The winner will be announced here on Thursday.
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