by christine victoria alexander

Goodbye summer! Hard to believe the sunniest season will be over in just a few more days. It felt so fast this year. I spent most of the summer with my head in the loo, thanks to lovely morning sickness and was starting to feel a little sad that I hadn't been up to planning more picnics and parties and beach trips and all the things that make me so happy during the summer. But after taking a little scroll through my camera roll last night it turns out, despite morning sickness, despite covid-19, we fit in quite a bunch of happy memories, a couple of absolutely wonderful trips and so much silliness and fun-making in our own backyard! I wanted these summer memories to live on my blog, probably more for me than you, but scroll through if happy little smiles brighten your day. These girls really are my sunshine every day and I can't wait to see what kind of memories we make together this fall! 

a trip to savannah, tybee island & kiawah island

enclosed the new deck, planted bunches of hydrangeas / madeline loves hats

madeline figures out a way to ride the tricycle - happy 4th of july!

snuggles with daddy / olive's new bike

olive turns five! photo thanks to my sister morgan =)

 kiawah island - right after i told isaac we were pregnant

artwork by olive / madeline really does love hats

madeline climbs up at least once a day to "play" for us

new game thanks to our sweet friend jenny / thirsty madeline

rosie harvesting tomatoes on the deck / yummy produce from mom's garden

olive's first tomato

madeline at the farmacy / new swimsuit for a growing bump

shabbat flowers the girls picked me / olive and madeline cooling off in the heat

taking a dip in our new mini pool thanks to our sweet neighbor / thumbs up for story time

family vacation at holden beach

great year for shelling - the first two of twenty-eight olive shells i found!

the sweetest sisters

happy girls peeking in the kitchen window / daddy & madeline

My favorite part of the holidays is making memories with my family. I love finding ways to get the girls involved and excited about what we're celebrating. For Rosh Hashanah this year we colored and painted paper apples to use as place cards on our dinner table. Apples and honey are traditionally eaten at Rosh Hashanah to symbolize our prayer for a sweet new year - we wrote the phrase "Shanah tovah umetukah!" on each apple, which means "A good and sweet year!" in Hebrew. I'm sharing the step by step below for this fun project you can do in an afternoon with your littles! 

P.S. These make adorable Rosh Hashanah cards to mail out to friends using just the piece of the apple with the stem and leaf!


Supplies: watercolor paper, scissors, watercolor pencils, paintbrush, cup of water

1. Draw an apple on sheet of watercolor paper. (Sorry, it's a little hard to see!) Cut it out and use it to trace a second apple, but this time add a stem and a leaf at the top. Once you have one you can use it as a template for the rest of your apples. I made my apple about 5" wide and 4" tall, not including the stem. 

2. Cut out the apples. If you're making a bunch, trace and cut them all out now so you can do the next few steps all at once. 

3. Color both sides of the apple with watercolor pencils. We colored hearts, flowers, people, rainbows, handprints... I think it helps to keep the color scheme mostly green or red so it resembles an apple at the end. 

4. Paint both sides of the apple with water to activate the watercolor pencil. Let it dry.

5. Once dry, slice the stem apple halfway up from the bottom to the center. Slice the apple without the stem halfway from the top to the center. 

6. Slide the two pieces together to create an apple. Write your name on the leaf and add a holiday wish if you like.

If you make these I would love to see - send me a picture or tag me on Instagram! Shana tova! xx

Image via Pinterest

I know I'm all over the place with projects right now! I hope you all can handle one more because we made the decision to update our master bathroom right alongside all the kitchen / laundry room / wood floor craziness! 

Here is the current master bath. I love all the natural light we get in here. I love the windows over the tub. Until just recently we had a huge cypress growing outside that created a little bit of privacy between us and the neighbors, but it came down in a storm so I think I'll have to put up some curtains. Maybe cafe curtains so we still get a lot of light?

Carpet has no place in a bathroom, so that will be coming out first! I want to lower the weird wall next to the vanity and take down part of the wall closing in the shower and do a glass shower. It's so dark in there right now it's like showering in a cave. By adding the half glass wall we will let in some light from the window and visually open up the room since you'll be able to see all the way to the back shower wall when you walk in the room. Everything else will stay where it is and we'll update it: marble tops for the vanities, new tub, mirrors, fixtures, etc. 

We survived tile shopping today with all three girls (!) and somehow came home with all our tile picked out! In one trip! I can't believe it! I thought it was going to be a long, tedious process of ordering samples and comparing them in different lights and all that. This almost felt too easy. We came home and spread everything out on the bathroom floor and I'm so pumped about how it's all coming together! 

Images via Pinterest

I was really inspired by these two bathrooms I found on Pinterest. I love the soft, creamy neutrals and the subtle touch of marble. I'm planning on using a classic, gray Carrara for the vanity tops and tub surround (like the photo above, on the left). 

Here is what we chose for tile. We'll use gray grout on the floor tile so it will look something like the photo below, on the left. The shower tile will be grouted with a lighter gray grout because I'm very not into white grout for bathrooms. I have spent the last 7 years of my marriage scrubbing white grout lines in bathrooms and let's just say I'm ready for something a little bit lower maintenance! 😅

And that's as far as we've gotten! Demo and tile installation are next! I've never done this before - picked finishes and designed the hard surfaces in a room. I usually just dabble in fabrics, paint, furniture arrangement, etc so this feels a little out of my comfort zone! It's exciting and a little nerve-racking at the same time because it's playing with things I can't easily change if it doesn't turn out the way I pictured. Trusting my instincts and trying to keep resell in mind (which is taming my tendency to want something a little more eccentric or fun)! Send any tips my way! xx
Photo via The Perfect Palette

We are back from a few wonderful days at the beach with family and ready to jump into preparations for Rosh Hashanah! Next Friday evening kicks off the "Jewish New Year" - the biblical name for this holiday is Yom Teruah which translates to "day of shouting or blasting". We have a picnic at the park every year, blow the shofar, teach our children about repentance and forgiveness and eat apples dipped in honey symbolizing our prayer for a sweet new year! 

Last year we built on those traditions by adding in a fun dinner party the night before to kick off the new year. I themed the dinner party around traditional foods eaten at Rosh Hashanah: apples dipped in honey, carrots, leeks, beets, dates, pumpkin, pomegranate, and fish. I prepared the dinner in courses, adding in a few of these foods with each course. When our guests arrived I handed each guest a card with a blessing on it (and a cocktail!) - whenever we ate one of the special foods we would stop, toast our glasses and read the appropriate blessing card for that food. It was really fun! 

I'm sharing my menu and recipe links below along with the blessing cards I made, if you want to do something similar in your own home! 


Cocktail: The Beet Twist 

Mediterranean Grazing Table: Baked Feta, Crackers, Carrots, Cherry Tomatoes, Peppers, Trout Dip, Olives, Mixed Nuts & Grapes*

Flatbread with Pesto, Leek, Heirloom Tomato & Honey Goat Cheese**

Cocktail: Pomegranate Moscow Mule

Dessert Tray: Flourless Chocolate Date Cake, Pumpkin Pie Caramel Bars, Apples & Honey

*If you need inspiration for setting up a grazing table just Google or Pinterest search "grazing boards" and you'll find what you need! It's such a fun, relaxed way to serve dinner and great for kids too! 

**I use this flatbread recipe from Sprouted Kitchen as a guide for toppings and cook time. I swapped the broccolini for leeks and added pesto. It's delicious!

Here are the blessing cards I typed up - you can print them and hand one to each guest or display them on your dinner table! 

We went for our gender ultrasound last week and got to see our sweet little baby for the second time! Oh my goodness, it never gets old! I was just as excited to find out what we were having this time around as I was the night we went to find out the very first time with little baby Olive kicking around inside me!

I am so grateful our ultrasound technician allowed Isaac and I to come together to the appointment - I have a few friends going in for prenatal appointments and ultrasounds that haven't been able to go with their spouse and I think that's awful! I told Isaac if that had been the case here I would have had her seal the gender in an envelope so we could find out together! Maybe I'm sappy and sentimental about all of this, but I think it's a really special time! 

And now for the important news: The Alexander family is thrilled to announce we will have another BABY GIRL joining us this winter! Before we left for our appointment I was thinking how grateful I am that we don't have to make the decision of what will have (boy / girl) ourselves. (How stressful that would be!) God shapes our families in His own perfect way and I'm thankful to Him for choosing exactly what we needed, even before we knew. We went into our appointment completely at peace and couldn't be happier to have another daughter in our arms soon! 

We told Olive and Rosie when we came home for our appointment - they are beyond excited for another girl! Olive keeps saying "I'm just so happy we're having a girl!" and has been counting how many girls will be in our family and reminding me daily. Rosie has told every single person she's seen (complete stranger coming to give us a quote on tile work, UPS man, Amazon delivery woman, grocery delivery woman) "We're having a baby girl!!!" so I think she's excited! That, or she just likes to have news to share! 😂 

Yes, a lot of people thought we would be having a boy! I think it's just rare to see families that are all boys or all girls so people expect as you have more and more kids that eventually you'll have a different gender. Haha not us! I honestly could not be happier and more excited to raise these little women. Thank you for sharing in our excitement and celebrating with us! Love you all bunches! Sending big hugs! xx

P.S. Isaac is the best girl dad in the whole world. I have a million pictures and memories to prove it. He is already taking them golfing and teaching them how to throw a baseball and I love that he doesn't think of those things as only things he could do with a son. He will teach them to be brave and try anything - and they'll teach him to soften up and show his tender side a little more. When they pile in a heap on the couch together there is so much love you can feel it across the room. I'm getting butterflies thinking about adding another little squish to this group in 4 1/2 more months! 💛

Well here we are, coming up on 4 years in the house, and finally ready to pull the trigger on a major kitchen facelift! I would have loved to do this right after moving in, but it was too big of a project to take on right after buying the house (aka depleting our nest egg). 

We are currently in phase 1 of this project: gathering quotes, picking out materials, and putting everything on a mood board so we can see all our ideas in one place. I'm not 100% decided on paint colors, tile, wood, countertops, etc at this point so it feels a little scary putting all this out there when things may change quite a bit, but I'm telling myself you all appreciate the real inside look at this process and can handle a few design flip flops along the way! 

While this is technically the The Great Kitchen Makeover of 2020, we are also getting wood floors in our family room put in at the same time. Another room-full of carpet GONE! I am so excited. I would have zero carpet anywhere if it were up to me. (Bring on all the rugs though!)  

Note: We have no idea how long this will take. I told Isaac that as long as everything is done by the time the baby comes we're good! 

Here are pictures of our current kitchen and our plan for this space:

1. Level the floor and either retile or carry hardwoods through here. Our kitchen, back entry and laundry room floors are majorly sloped. The house was sinking when we bought it. We poured quite a bit of concrete (also, money) into the foundation and now it's not going anywhere, but the floor needs to be leveled. Are you team tile or hardwood in the kitchen? 

2. Remove / level the breakfast bar. Not a fan of the breakfast bar. There isn't room at the counter for stools - I can't use it for cooking or eating at - so it just ends up being a catch all for papers, packages, stacks of coloring books, etc.

3. Paint the cabinets. We have good, solid cabinets and I like that they extend all the way to the ceiling. Going to trim quite a bit of cost here by not buying new or refacing and just working with what we have.

4. Update the appliances to stainless steel. We have a double oven but actually can't use the ovens at the same time OR the cooktop at the same time as the oven and we're hoping to correct all that during this process! 

5. New countertops. I. can't. wait. I'm probably most excited about this part. We're going to pop in a new sink and faucet while we're at it. 

6. Paint the walls. You know I'm going brighter!

7. Last but not least, upgrade lighting and cabinet hardware, etc. 

Probably forgetting a few things here or there but that's most of it! So, what do you think? Can we get it done before 👶 ?

I recently had a talk with a friend about this and wanted to share a little more about it here. Diet culture. What do I mean by that? I'm talking about rigid eating patterns, that, on the surface, are in the name of health, but in reality are about weight, shape or size. Conversations about weight, diets, good/bad foods, cutting carbs, detoxing, cleansing, calorie count, macros, etc. Exercise as a mode of weight loss, or as a punishment for eating. Praising body shape over body health.

You see, diet culture gets in our heads. It makes us feel shame and guilt. It destroys our relationship with food. It ruins our digestion, ruins our health, but worst of all, diet culture normalizes eating disorders. You may know someone who measures all their food and sticks to their diet 100% and works out every day and checks the menu before eating out to make sure they can find something that fits their macros. Guess what? That's someone obsessed with food, not health. That's diet culture. 

I struggled in my late teens/early twenties with my relationship to food. I loved working out, I loved reading health articles and fitness magazines. I was a gym rat. But, unfortunately, my obsession with health turned into an obsession with looking a certain way and eating a certain way. When I didn't meet my own strict standard of health I felt like I had failed. I went around and around in a vicious cycle of starting, failing, and restarting for years. All in the name of health. I really thought there was something wrong with me - that I had zero self control for not being able to stick to my rigid protocol of what a healthy body, diet and lifestyle looked like. 

I'll add here that my parents sensed something was wrong while I was still living at home and tried to help, but I just wasn't ready and didn't accept their help. I shared my struggle with my husband and spent the first few years of our marriage in a very dark and depressing place. I look back at pictures from then and hardly recognize myself. For someone obsessed with "health" I looked the furthest thing from it. 

It wasn't until I got pregnant with my daughter Olive that I realized I was ready. I didn't want to raise a daughter with this "sickness". I didn't want to try and hide it from her my whole life. I wanted her to have a healthy relationship with food. I wanted to be an example to her of what health and vitality looked like. I wanted her to view food and exercise through a completely different lens than I did. And I knew that was only possible if I healed myself first. 

I worked with an incredible therapist that dealt specifically in eating disorders and by the time Olive was born I had a completely new relationship with food. In May of the following year, on my 25th birthday, I shared with my parents and siblings the struggle I had faced and we celebrated together my freedom from the sick thinking that had weighed me down for years. 

The biggest lesson I took away from my wonderful therapist was this: Food is fuel. Food is energy. That's exactly how I'm teaching my children to view food. Food gives us the energy to swim and dance and play and be mommies and daddies. Food fuels us up for a hike, or a run, or a long day working in the garden. Food is medicine. Food helps keep us warm and healthy in the winter. Food keeps us cool and hydrated in the summer. 

I like to encourage my girls to be active everyday - I don't call it a workout, I don't tell them they have to workout so we can go eat lunch. I teach them how sweating helps our bodies. I teach them how resting helps our bodies. I teach them how my prenatal workouts keep my core strong to hold baby until baby comes out. We ride bikes and we go to the tennis court and we play frisbee in the backyard and none of that has to do with looking a certain way - it has to do with feeling a certain way: full of energy and full of life! I hope they always hold onto that mindset. 

Let's ditch diet culture and raise the next generation to understand that health is not a jeans size. Health is loving life and loving yourself enough to fuel your body with foods that make you feel vibrant and beautiful and strong every single day!

I would love to hear your thoughts or your personal journey! Comment or send me an email! xx

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