Crafternoons | Painted Straw Bag

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Josh spent the last week traveling, it was a last-minute and very long trip and oh my was it a rough one!

Our little guy is in some kinda 7mo sleep-regression/teething/I-dont-know-what and has decided that 3am is a great time for a feeding frenzy.  I try my hardest to keep things positive when Josh is away, since there’s only so much he can do from LA and I love him too much to needlessly worry him.  But I’m a terrible liar and he is very intuitive and I had several meltdowns.  It rarely happens and I’m not proud of it, I’m still trying to navigate this whole “my husband travels a lot for work and I miss him like crazy” thing.

I do a lot of crafty projects while he’s away.  In the last few months I’ve sewed a dress, pillows, handbags, hung new curtains, painted bookshelves, hung pictures and super cleaned and re-organized our apartment.  Haha!  You’re probably thinking “Get a life Abbe!”.  I know, I know, it’s just that I have an infant and my options are limited, we get out of the house everyday (this is key to survival!) and I’m getting better about calling a friend to hang out with.  I do a lot of what I call “Crafternoons” and sometimes “Crafter-nights”, usually during naps.

I picked up this Target tote bag for $2 and was originally going to cover it with pompoms or something equally childish (I really love unexpected accessories!) as I was brainstorming on the Pinterest I kept seeing these fun painted straw bags.  Heres the link if you want to buy one for $195!  As my mom always says “my creative juices were flowing!” and I figured if I goofed the whole thing up, I would only be out a couple of dollars.  I will never not love a monogram so it called to me.


A little inspiration, it even has my initials so I think it was a sign…


And here’s my late night painting session, complete with empty Panera iced tea cup.  I taped it off with duct tape (turns out, it’s the perfect stripe width) and painted on a black acrylic paint and a light blue paint that was left over from Hugo’s bookshelf (matchy-matchy).  The monogram stencils were from Hobby Lobby.  Let it dry between stripes to avoid smudges and give it a good day of air-drying before wearing it out.  Done and done!


  • This is the easiest project and so fun to do with any old straw bag!  I do wish I’d picked one that was a tighter weave, it would have made the monogram and stripe sharper.
  • I used a foam brush for the stripes (to get into the grooves) and a small artists brush for the monogram and to add the “dots” between the letters.
  • You will want to slip a cardboard box into the bag to add stability while you paint.
  • For monogramming, it would be so cute with your sweethearts initials or an “A♥️ J” or a nickname or whatever.  I love creative personalization!

Here are some other fun Straw Bag DIY ideas!  PomPoms! A much more detailed version of mine Painted Stripe Bag  And a Spray Painted version!  I would love this in gold!



Five Things | 8/14/17


ONE  |  Sriracha Documentary

This idea would be perfect for an at-home date night or a little get-together with friends (bonus points if you have a hot sauce themed menu!) This came up on a list I was reading the other week of food documentaries you should watch.  Available on Amazon Prime, Josh and I pulled it up and both loved it!  I’ve always been a Sriracha fan, but it was fun to see how it became a trend and what a high quality product it really is.  Sriracha Lime Popcorn would be the perfect thing for snacking while viewing!  (Photo from here – this also looks like a few good recipes.)


TWO  |  Crushed Ice and Foam Cups

Survival of a Southern summer.  Considering that my AC has been out all weekend and is currently getting worked on, it was 86 degrees ALL NIGHT LONG, consider this my best advice for August in the deep south.  Last summer, when I was pregnant with HMW and barely functioning due to (what I am convinced was) undiagnosed Hyperemesis Gravidarum, I would eat cups and cups of crushed ice from Zaxby’s, Chick-fil-a and a myriad of other fine southern dining establishments.  The combination with the foam cup is like nothing else.  Perfection!  Someday I dream of having two ridiculously fancy upgrades in my kitchen, a pellet ice machine and a sparkling water tap.  Go ahead and judge me.  I’ll just be over here with my monogrammed foam cups!


THREE  |  Dr. Teal’s Soothe & Sleep Lavender Bath

This combination bubble bath and shower gel is my current favorite.  With 24/7 caring for Little Hugo and frequent breastfeeding, I carry all of my stress in my shoulders causing muscle aches AND, every mom to ever come before me, I have a hard time winding down.  Josh is really sweet to make me chill out most nights and enjoy a bubble bath and actually read through a magazine.  I also use it every time I shower because I love the smell!

FOUR  |  NYX Butter Gloss

  1. I was on a brief hunt this summer for a popsicle-y lip stain color, but after several attempts I gave up.  My sister Brooke mentioned she’d bought these after a blogger recommendation so I got myself over to Target and bought the Vanilla Cream Pie (mauve pink) and Creme Brûlée (nude-ish pink).  They’re under $5 each and have a light glossy finish and soft color, no smudging!  Target has a buy one get one 50% off deal right now, so go ahead and get yourself a few different colors.  YES! MA’AM! THEY ARE THAT GOOD!


FIVE  |  Wild Caught Fish Sandwich

I apologize in advance for posting such an unappetizing photo of this great product.  I bought a package of 12 burgers last time I was at Costco to try and have been so impressed.  They make such a delicious quick lunch or after-workout dinner.  You can grill, use a skillet or (I just discovered) pop them in the oven!  I’ve served them in a lettuce wrap with Sriracha mayo and as a healthy-ish “filet-o-fish” on a gluten free bun I also recommend topping them with a little slaw!

Of Peach Pie and a Last Will & Testament


Yesterday I baked a fresh peach pie.

And Josh wrote up our will.

Our siblings refer to us as Grandpa & Grandma.  They’re not wrong.

For the record we are 26 & 28 respectively.  We fancy ourselves a responsible, organized couple and I’d figured we’d do all the will-related stuff whenever we take our first big trip sans-Little Hugo, but no, the other night Josh was at the kitchen table typing away and was like “Hey babe! I just finished our will, do you want to look this over?”

I was more than a little tickled.  Not only is he cute and funny, he’s smart too.  My natural tendency is always to procrastinate (due to analysis paralysis) but Josh is a “man of action” as he always reminds me.  And maybe a little paranoid, did I ever tell you about how after he proposed and we were walking back to the car, literally the first thing he said to me was “Don’t worry, your ring is insured!”.  I love him.

Anyway, it’s the height of summer and fresh produce and stone fruits and Georgia peaches and I was in the mood to bake a pie.  Since pie should be shared and the will required some witnesses,  we invited the brother and sister-in-law over after dinner.  Then I contemplated wearing a classic black dress for the whole deal, it seemed appropriate.  Just kidding!

Back to the pie…


I always use the queen, Martha Stewart’s Pate Brisee dough.  It requires digging out your food processor, but worth it.  I used Cup 4 Cup gluten-free flour and it came out tender and flaky, I was so pleased that I mentioned it over breakfast (I’m sorry I have a problem, I think about food.  A lot.) and Josh was like “What? That was gluten-free?”.  Yes.


For the filling, I mixed up Martha’s fruit pie chart with a few modifications.  I went with the lighter sugar amount since the peaches were at peak, I’d forgotten lemons at the grocery and found a lime in the fridge, so there ya go (sorry) and I prefer cinnamon to ginger so I added a generous sprinkle of that.  I omitted the extra butter pats since the crust has two sticks and brushed the top with a little half-and half and sugar for texture.  I baked for 10 minutes at 400 and then 50 minutes at 375.

Don’t forget the golden rule of pastry, “Work cold, bake hot!”

Yall, it was so good!


Now there’s half a pie in my fridge, taunting me.  Darn it, it belongs with my morning coffee, but I’m holding out for later and it’s time for my Friday deep clean of the apartment anyway.  So, back to that responsible and organized adult thing…

GOALS | august 2017


I’ve always loved being able to share goals on my blog.  It seems to be a clean, organized place to list them and then fun to come back and share the details in a longer post.  Here are a few things on my calendar this month.

  1.  Find two, new, go-to recipes (low-carb preferred).  If you’re anything like me, the last few weeks have been non-inspiring in the meal planning department.  This week I literally made oatmeal for dinner one night.  And ordered in pizza the next.  I’m so sorry.  Couldn’t be sorrier.  I’m know there have been some serious marks against my “homemaker of the year award” application.
  2. Host my sweet friend Amy for a long weekend here in Birmingham!  Amy and I met on a Jane Austen tour in London almost 8 years ago, we were fast friends and although we don’t see each other often, she’s one of those rare people that you can pick back up where you left off.  Plus, she’s a gifted designer and I love talking high-fashion and trend pet-peeves with.  I can’t wait to see her!
  3. Plan the perfect summer picnic for my boys!  Complete with tasty sandwiches, lemonade and ants.
  4. Find and hang art in Hugo’s nursery.  I can’t decide if I want photos, or traditional art or if I should do a gallery (I already have a gallery wall in my living room and don’t want to overdo it…)
  5. See Ellie Holcomb in concert!  I missed an concert of hers earlier this year, and although Josh is not a concert going kinda guy, he was down for this one (I, on the other hand, LOVE live music and would watch almost any band perform).  She is so very talented and her latest, “Red Sea Road”, is really really good.  She’s coming to Birmingham in a few weeks and I’m we have the evening open!

What are your August goals?

Travel | Easy-Peasy, No-Traffic, With Infant, 6-ish Hour, Atlanta Travel Guide!

A few weekends ago we planned a little day trip to the ATL.  While we love all of the fun things to do in Birmingham, we also love the fact that it is such a short drive to other great cities like Nashville, New Orleans, Orange Beach and Atlanta.

And because I’m not too familiar with the city and I know that traffic is always a nightmare (always great conversation starter. Atlanta traffic!), I spent a few hours going plotting out and mapping our day.  It paid off because our day was really well-paced, and that’s not always easy with a nursing baby.  When we made it home at a decent hour and had experience ZERO traffic, I basked in my success!


We left around 9am and drove right to the Atlanta History Center, it’s on the north side of the city and the main road will take you through some gorgeous old neighborhoods full of beautiful southern homes.  Our first destination was Swan House!  It’s a little confusing at first, but you begin at the history center, there’s great parking, stroller accessible with a fun gift shop and cafe attached.  Your ticket includes a Swan House, the grounds and gardens, Margaret Mitchell House (located off site, we didn’t visit this time), a historic farmhouse with animals and very well-designed museum exhibits back at the air-conditioned history center.


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Swan House was the filming site for several of the Hunger Games movies.  They had set up a special exhibit in one of the upstairs bedrooms with leftover props and the docents were willing to answer tons of questions.  It was a fun bit of trivia!


I’m an old house nut.  I think they’re just full of mystery and romance and I never get enough.  Before moving to the south, I spent 3 summers volunteering at a historic home in Wisconsin, that place became so special to me.  Josh proposed in the tower that overlooks the lake and we went back after our wedding ceremony to have our portraits done.  ALL THE LOVE!!!

The only thing better than a BIG old house are two little houses!  These playhouses were a dream, with bedrooms, kitchens, a wraparound porch and real windows.  How amazing would it be to build one of these someday?!?


The luxurious Buckhead Village is only a few miles from the houses and they just opened a Shake Shack.  OH MY YES!  I love fancy things, but do you know what I really love?  Not-fancy things.  There is nothing better than a simple cheeseburger and fries.  The cheese fries from Shake Shack are so good!  Josh was suspicious the I’d planned our entire trip around this stop, I wouldn’t say “entire” trip, not exactly…

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All good day-trips need a bit of purpose, so we stopped by IKEA to pick up one of these little highchairs that I’ve been hearing rave reviews about.  Best $20 purchase!  HMW loves sitting in it while I’m cooking and throw toys at me.  Haha!  Little boys!


Our final stop was Star Provisions for some coffee and a delicious gluten-free brownie.  I can’t wait to visit again and eat at one of their other restaurants.  I was so impressed with their merchandising and selection of Southern Made products.


And there you have it!  My “Easy-Peasy, No-Traffic, With Infant, 6-ish Hour, Atlanta Travel Guide!” Is it ambitious?  No, not at all.  But it’s doable and laid-back and was perfect for us and little Hugo.


Eats    |    Shake Shack Buckhead, Star Provisions 

Stops    |    Swan House, IKEA Atlanta

Sounds    |    The audiobook version of Steve McQueen: The Salvation of an American Icon by Greg Laurie   (Shameless plug: Josh is producing the movie for this book and so by default we’ve both learned tons about the life of SMq. The movie trailer is HERE!

| Five Things |

Just a few items of note:

1.  Hot Fudge Pudding Cake

Oh my gracious!  I made this for Fathers Day when we hosted the Walsh side for the holiday.  I sent options to Pops and Josh and told them to vote, Josh claims all the boys in his family have the same taste buds, which is 100% true because they both choose this.  It couldn’t have been easier to make, I baked it up right before everyone walked in the door, it held for an hour or two and then I served with vanilla ice cream.  (Since I’m a gluten free baker, I used Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 flour mix, the texture was perfect and everyone raved!)  Also, this reminds me of the Great British Baking show on Netflix, which I just started watching, because they were baking “self-saucing puds” (say that in your best british accent).  I consider myself a very capable and comfortable cook, but after seeing this show, I’m like “Years of academy training wasted”.  Apparently, I know nothing.


2.  LOFT Chambray Jumpsuit

I’m not a big shopper.  Honest.  And I’ve been told I have otherworldly self-control.  I never NEED something.  Except this darn jumpsuit. And since its my blog and my poor husband is tired of hearing me rant about it (bless him!), I shall regale the entire story here.  I saw this on Fancy Ashley’s insta-story, it was on sale, I like it, blah blah blah.  I never go to LOFT, since I feel like their fit models are the exact opposite of my body type, but I was near one of the stores the next day and went to try it on.  They only had the medium, which was too big (thank you breastfeeding, I love your calorie burning benefits), and all of the smalls were sold out.  After sleeping on it another day I went from like to LOVE and called all 4 LOFT stores in my town (BHM women love them some Ann Taylor), all sold out.  A week or so later, Ashley posts it again and I click over to see if they re-stocked, and lo and behold, they did!  It’s sitting in my shopping cart and I’m in the middle of checking out when something came up and by the time I had a minute to come back to it, it was gone.  (All I’m saying is that for this run-around, I’d better be seeing this jumpsuit on everyone and their sister).  Fast forward, more days, I check one more time and PRAISE!  It’s in stock!  I place the order and text Josh (he’s like “thank goodness we can stop talking about this now”).  It arrived last week and I’ve worn it a ton, and received lots of compliments.  I love it, it’s light and summery, couldn’t be easier to wear, and everything I want to be.


3.  Chicken Shwarma 

We have an amazing Israeli cafe only a few minutes from us that makes such good food.  I’m not even going to pretend that mine is on par, but I’ve added a quick Chicken Shwarma to our weekly meal rotation.  I use a rough recipe and its never the same twice.  I’ve linked a similar recipe for your reference, but I’m making it for dinner tonight and made a marinade of greek yogurt, limes, this Shwama seasoning and garlic salt (marinate for a few hours and bake in the oven, or grill it!).  You can serve with pita as a sandwich or in a big bowl over lettuce or a rice pilaf.  I do it bowl style (sadly, without pita bread) with rice, tomato salad, pickled onions, cucumbers and hummus.  Whatever you have on hand and floats your boat.  It’s very inauthentic, but it’s easy and delicious and fresh and I love it!


4.  Southern Mama Guide Blog

I love this sweet blog.  I found her on instgram because we live in the same city, but it has been such a fun account to follow.  Great blog, lovely instagram account and she also has a Facebook group that is wonderful.  Just a bunch of southern mamas talking about monogrammed things, pretty nurseries and birthday parties.


5.  Londontown Nail Polish

One of my favorite things in the world is my Good Being Box.  Every month I get a subscription box filled with natural and organic beauty items.  I’ve been a subscriber for about 2 years and have only had a few items that I didnt love.  It’s a really great value for what they include, high quality, and the products have gorgeous packaging.  They’ve sent me two colors from this nail polish brand and I’m very impressed with the staying power (I’d say even better than OPI or essie).  I always have my nails painted and I’m always doing something hands-on, so a polish that doesn’t chip for days is amazing!  The colors are very pretty and I like that it’s a clean-ish formulation.  $16 is on the pricey side for a nail polish, but I pay less than $24 per month for Good Being and they’ve included two full size bottles.


| Hugo Michael |

Well gee, this is a little overdue.

Unlike my baby, who was born three days early.

He’s four months old.  Currently laying next to me while I type.  His little blond head has freshly washed curls, the kind that only last for about an hour after his bath, wearing Easter pajamas with floppy bunny ears on the toes.  How embarrassing.  But hey, we go through a lot of laundry over here and there is approximately 97 pairs of pjs in the wash right now.

My goodness do we love this boy.

Born January 8, 2017.  9 pounds 3oz, 21 inches long.  He is the delight of our hearts and for all the struggle of pregnancy and childbirth, he is the sweetest, most content baby I’ve ever met.  And he’s all mine.

Everyone has asked where we came up with his name, goodness! naming a child is one of the hardest things we’ve ever done!  We found “Hugo” and it fit all of our criteria and grew on us over the months.  It’s German in origin (my heritage about a 50/50 German/Irish mix) and means “Heart, Mind and Soul”, which I loved.  I hope that one day he will know God and we can teach him to love Him with all of his heart, mind and soul.  Victor Hugo is one of my favorite authors and I can’t wait till he’s old enough to discover the timeless stories of Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.  Josh, being the film buff and movie producer that he is, thought of the movie “Hugo” about the little boy who lives in a clock tower in Paris.  “Michael” was chosen because it is Josh’s middle name, as well as his dad’s middle name and my closest grandfather’s first name.

Hugo is a big name, but he’s growing into it quite nicely and it suits him so very well.

His first four months have been full, he is an “Okie” and was born in Oklahoma City, OK, basically on a film set.  We even took him to the wrap party only a few days after his birth.  In retrospect, that wasn’t my brightest idea, but sister had something to prove to herself.  I just felt that after waddling around set for months, I needed to show off my prize.  He’s visited 10 states already, flew up to Chicago to visit with his Grandchief and Sugar (my parents) and meet his GrandMimi (my Mimi), drove down to Florida to meet his Pops and Mum (Josh’s parents) and had his first trip to the beach last weekend.  We’ve taken him to multiple movies, events (he already has his first red carpet pic!) and on road trips.  He’s our little buddy and so amiable that it’s a pleasure to bring him with us.

Josh is an incredible dad and Hugo adores him.  I had an emergency c-section and from my delirious state in the operating room, I asked Josh to do skin-to-skin with him.  Josh didn’t hesitate and stripped off his shirt to hold his newborn son.  I tease him that he has the “mother imprint” with Hugo.  Haha! I don’t know if that makes any difference, but Hugo loves Josh and nine out of ten times will be comforted by him.  They play all of the time and Hugo gets so excited to see him (he used kick me from the womb when he heard Josh’s voice!), he almost always has beard-rash from Josh smooching on him.  They love to read together, I didn’t think he would be into it until much older, but Hugo is captivated by books.  It’s more precious than I could have imagined.  And Josh’s instagram stories featuring Hugo have become legendary!  Seriously, so hilarious!

And guess who just discovered that he has feet?!?