From the bottom of my heart

08/31/2010 at 12:39 pm | Posted in About town, Love, PPD | 16 Comments
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This is one of the few photos of newborn Small Fry and me that does not make me want to cry.

I tuck a print into whatever book I’m reading as a reminder that, yes, I struggled, but even more important, I have a beautiful daughter to show for it.

Most everyone who reads this blog knows that I’m a postpartum depression survivor.

It’s pretty much the reason I started writing pretty*swell. To be a resource for other moms and (I hope) show that life DOES get better.

Another way that I try to pay it forward is by volunteering with the organization that played a huge role in my recovery: Postpartum Education and Support.

I’ll never forget the gigantic wave of relief that washed over me during my first support group meeting. Not only because I’d been dreading it with a capital D, but also because there were so many other moms in that room feeling EXACTLY the was I was feeling. Hopeless. Scared. Crazy.

I realized I was not alone.

And I healed.

Thank goodness.

On October 2, Postpartum Education and Support is hosting its first-ever StrollerThon fundraiser, and I am super-excited about this event. All proceeds from the three-mile walk will fund programs and services that benefits moms and their families.

If you live in (or near) the Triangle area and want to walk, or if you’d just like to support the cause, click here.

If you’re a blogger and would be willing to post a badge on your site for the next month, drop me an e-mail.

Thanks for anything you can do to help get the word out. Every little bit makes a big difference!

On my dad's birthday

08/30/2010 at 5:12 pm | Posted in family, Love | 3 Comments
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I love everything about this photo.

My arm around my dad’s neck. The Big Bird sheets. The Raggedy Ann jammies. The green floral wallpaper. My bowl cut.

Most of all? My dad’s patient smile.

He read to us every night, and we loved every minute of it. And until we got too big, he used to carry us up the stairs, one daughter on each hip, and toss us gently into our beds. It’s a tradition I can’t wait to continue when Small Fry gets her big-girl bed.

I couldn’t have gotten luckier in the dad department. And it’s a whole new level of awesome watching Small Fry bond with her smitten Papa.

Happy birthday, Dad! Love you.

Dear beach: I miss you.

08/30/2010 at 9:50 am | Posted in family, Love, oh the places we go, Small Fry, snap happy | 15 Comments
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Hey friends!

We’re back from the beach, rested and ready to face the world. It was so nice to unplug for a few days. But, boy, did I miss you guys and life here at pretty*swell.

There are some exciting things in store, and I can hardly wait!

Right now, though, I’m lacking the brain power to string many more sentences together (I do believe it will take me all day to shake this haze).

So here is the rest of our vacation in photos. And a few words.

fluffing a perfect perch in the sand
floating in a little pink tube
more naps

sand castles
a tiny pink fishing pole
homemade pimento cheese
shrimp and flounder fresh from the boat

a gumball machine prize
watching Daddy come in on the boat
reading on the deck, cocktail in hand
beach hair

spotting treasures in the crab pot (then letting them go)
snuggling in a big-girl bed every night
beautiful sunsets
lightening in the clouds
salt air

burgers on the grill
ice cream (with sprinkles, of course)
fried shrimp, hush puppies and sweet tea
Small Fry singing to herself
outdoor shower

reading Sweet Pickles books
sand in between tiny toes
puffy pink clouds
evening walks along the shore
a plastic seashell bracelet (exactly like the one Mommy used to have)

getting dry and cool and cozy after a day in the sun
rain pounding the windows in the middle of the night
eating ripe, local tomatoes and peaches with almost every meal


The place we love

08/24/2010 at 3:10 pm | Posted in family, just plain fun, oh the places we go, Small Fry, snap happy | 11 Comments
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We’re at the beach, on a lovely getaway with Marc’s family. Small Fry is napping singing to herself in bed, so I stole a moment to log on and say hello.

This is my kind of vacation.

Riding on the boat. Fishing with our new hot-pink Dora rod. Swimming. Taking naps. Eating my mother-in-law’s famous pimento cheese. And spinach dip. And coffee cake loaded with brown-sugar crumbles.

Yep. A lot of eating.

It’s vacation after all, right?

Here are a few shots of our adventure so far. I’ve already taken a couple hundred. Lucky you!

P.S. Aren’t butt ruffles just divine?


08/23/2010 at 4:35 pm | Posted in Bloggy | 16 Comments
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Ever since I could hold a pen, I’ve been writing letters.

Mom trained us well in the art of thank-you note writing, and I loved being pen-pals with Nana and my Aunt Mary Lou.

If I became your friend at summer camp, you were going to get a letter from me in the mail. Same goes for my friends who lived just down the street. Yep. I wrote letters to people who lived within spitting distance of our house.

Because, why not?

I absolutely LOVE getting mail. Real mail. The kind that comes in a hand-addressed envelope. And I love writing letters almost as much as I enjoy receiving them.

Even in this age of digital communication, I’m proud to wave my letter-writing flag proudly. I still do it. With a pen and paper.

As a kid, I’d save my allowance for a trip to the cute shop that had a whole wall of stationery to choose from. My favorite was the ubiquitous brown-on-brown teddy bear pattern. Any other children of the 80s remember that one?

So when I discovered the opportunity to partner with Pear Tree Greetings, I jumped all over it. Because CUTE PAPER!

Their designs are gorgeous, and their philosophy is even better: Beautiful stationery can be affordable.

As a Pearista, I’ll be able to share the paper love with you guys! Each month, I’ll host a giveaway sponsored by Pear Tree Greetings, and there also will be great coupons and discounts up for grabs.

The timing is serendipitous. This month, Pear Tree has issued the “Pen to Paper” challenge, encouraging us “istas” to write one letter a week for four weeks to anyone we want, for any reason. I received a set of beautiful orange notecards (pictured above), and I wrote my first letter to a good friend who’s about to have a baby. She lives in Austin, so we never get to see each other.

The note is short and sweet. But I hope it will make her happy.

Because who doesn’t love getting real mail, right?

Happiness is: a happy dog

08/20/2010 at 5:28 pm | Posted in Happiness is, snap happy | 6 Comments
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I’ve been sitting at the computer for the last couple of hours while Small Fry takes a looong nap (making up for last night’s eleventy billion wake-ups), just working, working, working.

When I finally come up for air, I notice who’s scooched over near my feet, basking in the sunlight, chowing down on her favorite toy. Bella.

Sometimes it’d be nice to do as dogs do, wouldn’t it? Except for the butt-sniffing and poo-eating, of course.

I think I might join her on the floor for a bit.

You know, to stretch out and wag my tail.

Hope you have a happy weekend!

Giveaway winners + something for EVERYONE

08/19/2010 at 2:23 pm | Posted in Bloggy | 9 Comments
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The super-swell birthday giveaway has officially come to a close.

This was by far my most favorite!  Your comments just made my day, and I loved seeing how excited everyone got over the lovely Etsy items up for grabs. Especially that purse. Thought we might see a little brawl start up in those comments.

Passion for handbags?  I TOTALLY GET IT.

Sooooo … enough rambling. Here are our winners:

> Goldenrod poppy earrings by Hot Pink and Sequins: Joanna

> Green apple damask mary jane shoes by ivory & moss: Lindsay (of Just Me & Z)

> Floral clutch from Charm Design: Lindsay (of Too Much Good)

> Hoot owl hat by Naturally Crafty Shop: Melissa

> Sterling silver initial pendant necklace by Jam Jewelry Designs: Grace

> Cozy tweed pillow cover from Emma Dear Vintage Goods: Jessica Leigh

> Custom nursery print from Sweetpea Prints: Echo

> Wakey Wakey Eggs and Bakey felted wool pin by Pressed Penny: Allison

But, WAIT!

If you didn’t win something, Liz from Sweetpea Prints has a present for you! GO LIZ.

She is offering a buy-one-get-one-free deal! Simply place an order for your first print through Etsy, and in the “message to seller,” mention that you came from pretty*swell and tell her the design you’d like to have for FREE. How awesome is that?!  Click here to get your shop on at Sweetpea Prints. Have fun!

You Capture: in the kitchen

08/19/2010 at 11:20 am | Posted in snap happy | 32 Comments
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I love today’s You Capture theme: in the kitchen.

Our kitchen, as I suspect is the case for most everyone, is the heart of our home. Whenever we have friends over, everyone crams into the kitchen. Small Fry and I spend much of our time together in the kitchen, eating, playing at the table or on the floor, putting on shoes to go outside.

And of course, all of my attempts at cooking take place in the kitchen.

Family mealtime was a big deal growing up. How my parents managed to get all four of us at the table together nearly every night astounds me.

Dinner was often my favorite part of the day. And not just for Mom’s pasta or Dad’s ground beef hash “surprise.” It was the conversation. The laughter. The warmth and love and security.

One of my biggest hopes for our little family is to carry on that tradition of dinner together every night. Dream big, right?

For this photo challenge, I scoped out some of my favorite spots in our kitchen. Pictured above is a little basil starter kit that Small Fry is growing. It sits on a rainbow tray (holla Target) right by her placemat, and she delights in seeing how much it’s grown each day. Without fail she exclaims, “Mommy! Look at my green leaves!”

Here is a snippet from my cookbook collection. I adore the fish salt-and-pepper shakers, a vintage find (and gift) from my friend Julie.

And the fridge. An exercise in controlled chaos, if there ever was one. I just love it.

Finally, here’s a shot of my favorite little kitchen companion, hard at work on Play-Doh spaghetti.

These shots turned out a bit grainy, but I still love the colors and the character and the story they tell.

What are your favorite spots in your kitchen? How do you manage family meals? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

And for more kitchen images, be sure to check out I Should Be Folding Laundry today.

Big girl

08/18/2010 at 10:27 am | Posted in Love, Motherhood, Small Fry, snap happy | 10 Comments
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It’s become our go-to bargaining chip.

“Big girls eat green beans.”

“Big girls go pee-pee on the potty.”

“Big girls don’t need pacis.”

Small Fry loves being a “big girl,” even if it means eating vegetables or having to say please and thank you. And there is no matching the look of triumph on her face at the sound of pee-pee actually landing in the potty. We high-five every single time. Because pee IN the potty, right?

She’s also doing lots of other cool big girl things, like chatting on her phone:

Watering plants with her very own yellow squirt bottle:

Making out the grocery list with Mommy:

It’s exciting and fun, but also sort of startling. Because it seems like just yesterday she was my luscious little baby, all fat rolls and gummy smiles.

So sometimes I just want to scoop her up in my arms, squeeze her and whisper in her ear.

Hey now big girl. Slow down a little bit.

I need to catch up.

Blogher '10: bravery and cheeseburgers

08/16/2010 at 5:04 pm | Posted in Bloggy, just plain fun, oh the places we go | 21 Comments
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So, any day that ends with cheeseburgers and cocktails has to have been an awesome one, right?


And no.

I was so excited for my first (and only) day at BlogHer that I woke early and hit the subway in plenty of time to make it to midtown Manhattan for that morning’s welcome session.

Then I got on the wrong train. And ended up in New Jersey. And took three connections to get to the conference hotel because the line I needed was closed for the weekend.

And rolled in to the conference nearly THREE HOURS LATER.

I was devastated and so anxious that I burst into tears somewhere between Park Place Station and Times Square. It was awful.

Did I mention that my conference pass was being held in someone else’s name at the concierge desk? And that I was schlepping all of my luggage?

Thank goodness for Erin. She retrieved my pass, gave me my room key and helped me calm down.

When I finally collapsed into my chair for my first session of the day, I was a sweaty, teary mess with makeup collecting in pools on my face. But after some deep breathing, a nervous glance around the room and inordinate amounts of water, my brain landed from Mars and I relaxed.

The first session — a panel on privacy and boundaries in blogging — was my favorite. It featured Jenny Lawson from The Bloggess, Julie Marsh from The Mom Slant and Jory Des Jardins from BlogHer.

These ladies were funny and real and they totally kicked butt.

As soon as I set foot outside the room, I walked right into Kacia and Amanda, who were heading to lunch and invited me along. Thank. Goodness. There’s nothing scarier than being adrift in a sea of people and feeling totally alone. I didn’t have lunch plans or dinner plans that day. I just assumed I’d run into my hometown friends.

Ha. Haha.

I’d only met Kacia the night before and was struck immediately by her kindness. Especially when I shoved my camera in her face and asked her to take a photo of me and my PPD-mama friends at the meet-up arranged by Katherine Stone. I was thrilled to have lunch buddies and grateful for the invitation. Again: it’s surprisingly easy to feel alone among 2,000 people.

After scarfing hotel buffet fare, we ended up across the street at Magnolia Bakery for cupcakes.

(Amanda, me, Beth Anne, Kacia and Allison, whose camera took this shot.)

The day kept getting better. More sessions, a trip through the exhibition hall that somehow left me with three huge bags of swag, a chance encounter with Mrs. Potatohead.

I decided, late in the day, to sneak up to the room and call home. Big mistake.

When I heard Small Fry’s sweet little voice on the other end of the line, I lost it. I had been missing her more than I imagined, and in that moment, if you’d landed an airplane on top of the Hilton, I would gladly have climbed in and headed south.

I also was a little (A LOT) afraid of my plan-less evening. I mean, I had passes to the parties, but no one lined up to go with. Everyone at the conference was communicating through Twitter, and with no web access on my phone, I was waaaay out of the loop.

After a pep talk from my sweet husband, I hung up, tapped out a few text messages to some of my NC peeps and headed downstairs for the closing keynote.

About an hour later, when I’d given up hope of having company for dinner, a message from Fadra and Sue lit up my phone. Hallelujah.

Things got fun fast.

We went to the Volstead, where I gushed all over Maggie Mason and Laura Mayes and devoured an entire plate of mac-and-cheese skewers. Like at the State Fair, only without livestock or carnies.

(Sue and Fadra and mac-and-cheese heaven.)

I floated out of there on a cloud after meeting some of my blog heroes. I thought it couldn’t get any better until I ran into Gabrielle Blair in the hotel lobby on our way up to change for the night.


I’d died and gone to bloggy heaven.

What’s left to do but party?

First: Sparklecorn. Then, Cheeseburgher. With a few diversions in between.


(FINALLY meeting Mae and Mandy. Didn’t get nearly enough time with these ladies.)

(Tasted like peanut butter and jelly. And rainbows.)

(Beth Anne, me, Katherine and Casey.)

(Andrea and Erin getting their cheeseburger on.)

(Andrea, me, Sue and my gigantic arm.)

(Winding down. Cheeseburgers + couches = awesome party.)

If I had to whittle down my BlogHer experience into just a few words, I’d choose these:


And totally wonderful. I conquered a few fears, met some amazing people, formed exciting new friendships, laughed my ass off and ate a lot of all-beef patties with ketchup, mustard, onions, pickles and cheese.

I’m so glad I got to go.

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