ROSY CHEEKS & TAN LINES

by christine victoria alexander

Come inside our sukkah and have a seat! It's the first year in a very long time we haven't had a rainy Sukkot - it's been so nice getting to hang paper decorations without fear of them turning soggy! 

We celebrate Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) to remember how God sheltered His people in the desert, and to look forward to when He will dwell again with us when He returns. 

In the last days, the mountain of the Lord's temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and peoples will stream to it. Many nations will come and say, "Come let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us His ways, so that we may walk in His paths." 

The Law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He will judge many peoples and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. Everyone will sit under their own vine and under their own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the Lord Almighty has spoken. All the nations may walk in the name of their god, but we will walk in the name of the Lord our God for ever and ever. 

"In that day," declares the Lord, "I will gather the lame; I will assemble the exiles and those I have brought to grief. I will make the lame my remnant, those driven away a strong nation. The Lord will rule over them in Mount Zion from that day and forever." - Micah 4:1-7

Our sukkah is pretty simple every year - we aren't hard core enough to sleep in it but we do try to eat most of our meals in it together. I stick with a few decorations I can reuse and then add greenery, lights and artwork to finish it off. This year's sukkah is one of my favorites so far. It is so colorful and cheerful - the girls were able to help quite a bit with getting it set up and decorated this time and that makes it so special to me. We made the paper chains together, we colored and painted artwork to hang, Isaac cut down all the branches for the roof, and we took a special family trip to the garden center to pick out a butterfly wind chime - it makes the whole setup just so lovely whenever a breeze comes by. 

Here's a little tour of our tiny 6'x6' sukkah! 

We have the Snap Button Sukkah Kit by Sieger Sukkah. We bought the tiniest size the year we got married and it's still going strong as a family of 5! (Our bungees gave out last year so I just ordered these new ones off Amazon which is way cheaper than having them shipped from Sieger Sukkah!)



I think I put a paper chain up every year but half the time it's soggy and ripped by day 2. Thanks to a dry Sukkot this year our rainbow chain is still intact! I bought this one as a kit and it saved me so much time cutting strips of construction paper. 10 out of 10 would recommend. Linking it here!

I get asked about the Jerusalem backdrop every time I post a picture of it - can I let you in on a secret? It's a shower curtain! There are bunches online.


I made the picture on the right the year Olive was born. Isaac had it laminated  for me so the rain wouldn't ruin it. I'm planning to do the same with the other pieces I made this year!


Thanks for stopping by! Going to get the girls up from naps and sit out here with a cup of tea and a maple donut! Chag Sameach! xx


The Great Kitchen Makeover is officially underway! 

Flooring: our first design decision. We knew we wanted to do wood in the family room, but weren't sure if we wanted wood or tile in the kitchen. In the end, we decided to carry the hardwoods we already have in the front of the house through the rest of the rooms - I love the continuity it has created. It was quite a bit cheaper than tiling (I was surprised!), it will hide the sloped floors without having to adjust them much, and, I think, lends a softness to a space otherwise filled with hard surfaces like stainless steel and stone. 
*I wanted to note here that if you live in the South, have a crawl space, and haven't had it sealed off or at least have a moisture barrier down there then wood floors could be problematic! High moisture (humidity!) levels under the house can buckle the wood and cause bubbling. This happened to our neighbors with their brand new wood floors and it was tragic. Our crawl space is waterproofed but we're going to get a fan/dehumidifier down there to keep things dry and circulating on humid days just to be safe. 


We had the wood installed in the kitchen and family room over the last couple of weeks and I wasn't near ready for how much plastic wrap they were putting on my cabinets and sink! Can I admit to you that I didn't even realize the dishwasher was going to be moved out until after it happened? It felt a little like camping... but with a fridge and no creepy crawlies in the shower. 😄 My parents were kind enough to host us for a few days while the floors were finished up. I cannot imagine how much trickier this would have been if we were cooped up in a hotel instead of being able to enjoy my parents beautiful home, gardens, swings, toys, my Mom's yummy cooking... THANK YOU MOM AND DAD! 

Laundry room, back entry and pantry are all being leveled and tiled this week! I was beyond excited to see that dirty, yellowed linoleum from 1985 ripped up and carried out! We chose a matte glazed ceramic tile that resembles marble and it's looking really really pretty going down. Choosing grout was so stressful! The color card did't match the grout mock-up in the store and I kept wondering which one was the actual color? I went with a light gray which will hopefully be easier to keep clean than white (the worst). 

Countertop update! We visited our first slab yard (very fun) and learned the difference between granite, marble, quartz and quartzite. The designer we worked with recommended steering clear of marble (my first choice) with a house full of kids (not to mention a love for cooking) and recommended going with lower maintenance quartz instead. I liked our designer and really loved all the options she showed us, but the quote for our project came back a lot higher than we were expecting. We looked at the selections at Lowe's but I didn't fall in love with anything we saw. 
We were put in touch with a general contractor that is able to source the same quartz we saw in person at the slab yard and his quote came back thousands of dollars cheaper! The breakfast bar and backsplash were removed this afternoon and if everything goes as planned we will have countertops in by the end of next week! 

The slab on the left is what we're using: MSI Calacatta Verona
You can see the sample of it on the right - I can't imagine trying to choose an entire counter off a swatch that size. I'm so glad we had the opportunity to see the whole slab! The paint swatch is similar to the cabinet color I picked out.

A bunch of people warned me about doing any kind of renovation with small children, but I have to say the girls have been so amazing with everything. They nap through the noise, they smile and wave at the workers, they stay out of the work mess... I'm just so proud of them! The gorgeous weather has helped too, of course! 💛 

Well that's my little kitchen & family room update! I'll share pictures of the finished back entry & laundry room tile when they get it wrapped up this weekend! 


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!

PAINTED APPLES FOR ROSH HASHANAH

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! 


ROSH HASHANAH DINNER PARTY

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! 💛

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