Jack is eleven months old this week!

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As soon as he saw me sit down on the floor across from him he got a big smile on his face and made a beeline for my lap.

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Blurry but so cute.

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He was absolutely amazed by the camera.

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After some quick cuddles he was back to playing. He started crawling this month (a sort of army crawl that looks more like swimming breaststroke) and is into everything, including and especially the dog’s bowls.

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He definitely inherited Nick’s complexion. I slather him with sunscreen and he still looks like the coppertone baby. He’s got a batter tan than I do, and I haven’t worn sunscreen at all this year!

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I love this one.

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But after some cropping, I think this one (from up top) is my favorite. It captures the constant motion and that excited look in his eyes when he’s on a mission.

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I’m going to have all my favorite pictures from his first year printed and hang them up in chronological order on a clothesline at his birthday party, then put them all in an album to stand in for the baby book I never made. The party will just be a small one with close friends and family, but I had fun designing a cute invitation on the computer (not my real address or phone number below). My printer is old as dirt and wouldn’t cooperate with the cardstock so I had them printed for $5 at FedEx Office.

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I’m really glad I kept up with taking his picture every month for his first year! It’s a good way to document how much he’s grown and changed without lugging my camera around with me everywhere. I think I might even keep it up until he’s two! I’m so excited that it’s Friday again and that means another weekend of family time coming right up. Nick and I are going to a wedding tomorrow night sans baby–it’ll be like a date! I hope you all have an amazing weekend, thanks for reading!

This is my vacuum cleaner. I love it a lot.

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Growing up, my mom only used the vacuum on carpet and cleaned wood and tile floors with a broom or dustmop. For the first couple of years after college that I lived in houses with no carpet I didn’t own a vacuum (save for a Roomba that died within a year). I would swiffer til the cows came home and still be defeated by pet hair. My friend Lauren kept encouraging me to get a vacuum, especially one that had attachments for cleaning upholstery and other surfaces. Life changer! I researched and researched and ended up choosing a Miele canister vac. I’d never owned a canister before but I love it! The wand extends to be waist-high and I can go right from vacuuming the floor to the sofa and other flat surfaces all using the same attachment.

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There are attachments for crevices, dusting, and upholstery stowed right on the canister. It’s really easy to switch them out. It uses a bag, which I actually prefer because I don’t have dust flying around when I empty it like with bagless vacs I’ve owned in the past. I only have to buy bags once or twice a year even with three pets, and it never smells bad or spews dust out while I’m vacuuming. And this may be standard on vacuums like this, but I love that it doesn’t have a rotating brush! Many a vacuum (including my roomba) died a slow and painful death thanks to strands of my long hair wrapped around its brush.

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While not as pricey as a Dyson or some fancier models, the Miele Olympus is definitely more expensive than a run-of-the-mill upright vacuum. I saved up and cashed in some credit card reward points to get it (we get points when we run our debit cards as credit). Every other vacuum I’ve ever owned has gone kaput within a year or two but after two and a half years this one still works great. My hope is that it will still be going after a decade! I feel like lots of folks spend hundreds of dollars buying one cheap vacuum after another and hating every single one, so I’m really glad I decided to go outside of my comfort zone and invest in one that will hopefully last. I never would have thought to use a vacuum on wood and tile or to get a canister vac until it was suggested to me and let me just tell you, I don’t know why everyone doesn’t do this. I actually kind of like cleaning the floors now. Nobody is paying me to write this or anything, I just wanted to share with those of you who maybe are struggling to keep your floors clean. I also recently got a cordless handheld vac that I use to do a quick clean-up of the litter box area and sometimes the stairs or other tricky spots.

I’ve recently started doing a quick clean-up of the whole house on Friday afternoons to get ready for the weekend, so I’ll be a vacuuming fool come tomorrow! It’s Thursday, so the place is in total disarray right now. Baby toys everywhere and cat hair covering every surface. Hope y’all are all having a great week!

This girl! But the only recreational use of these herbs is culinary. Let me start from the beginning. I don’t have a great track record with keeping plants alive, but I’m working on it. Through a random series of events I recently befriended my across-the-alley neighbor, Danielle, whose second child is only a few months younger than Jack. You can see a glimpse of her house in this photo from when I freshened up my secondhand patio set.

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One day while Jack and I were over for a playdate I remarked to Danielle that I really admired her herb garden and would love to have one of my own. She offered to come over and take a look at our yard and gave me all kinds of good advice. It was around the time that she was examining blades of grass between her fingers, mumbling to herself about whether it was centipede or bermuda, that I asked, “How do you know all this stuff about gardening?” and she said, “Oh, I actually got certified as a Master Gardener,” like it was no big deal! Three years I’ve lived in this house, and I am only just now realizing I live next to a Master Gardener. And she’s moving in a month! So I’m trying to put all her good advice to use while I still have her around to tell me what I’m doing wrong.

I told Danielle that I thought I’d like to put my new herb garden in this awkward corner of our yard. She showed me how to remove the grass with a shovel (she didn’t think my grass would be easily smothered, which explains why I continue to struggle with it in the veggie garden).

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I cleared a 3×9′ strip of grass that very day, then on Memorial Day, with Nick home to hang with Jack while I played in the dirt, I went to Home Depot and rented the smallest tiller they had for $35.

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The tool rental people didn’t tell me anything about how to operate it, but it was pretty straightforward and actually kind of fun. And it went way faster than I thought it would. I was back to return the tiller to HD within an hour!

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Bam. Grass and weeds be gone!

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I was originally going to build a raised bed from wood boards like I did for my vegetable garden, but as I stood in the lumber aisle I realized that getting 9-foot long boards home in my small SUV might be more trouble than it was worth. I decided to dig up some bricks that I knew were under a layer of leaves on the other side of our house and use them for edging. They were completely free and add a bit of charm. (you can see a photo of the brick path before it was covered in leaves here. So funny that Memorial Day three years ago we were working in that spot clearing a bunch of ivy!)

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Some of the bricks are stamped with “St. Joe” or “Salmen,” which means they were actually made in my hometown an hour and a half away and probably original to the house. The backyard feels awfully contemporary in contrast to the actual age of our home so it’s nice to bring some of this brick out where we can actually see and appreciate it.

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After laying out all my bricks (I tried to get them mostly level and straight but didn’t stress about perfection), I filled the bed with two bags of organic garden soil. I don’t always spring for organic, but in this case it was only a little bit more so I went for it.

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Then I planted lavender, thyme, rosemary, and basil. They were all $2 starter plants from the hardware store except for the lavender, which I’d started from seed in another pot back when I planted my vegetables.

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At Danielle’s suggestion I put some peppermint in a big pot on the deck. This way the invasive mint won’t take over the rest of the bed, and I strategically placed it near the table so it’ll release some minty fragrance anytime we brush against it.

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I’ve got a tentative master plan to ditch the pallet compost bin (since I made another one out of a trashcan) and add another brick-edged bed along the left. I can plant veggies in there and abandon the smaller bed that has grass growing beneath it. I could place a small shed between them to finally have a place to put my garden tools, and maybe put in a set of steps off this side of the deck to make it easy for us to access this little part of the yard. The weird concrete walkway creates a natural division for this area to be a dedicated garden space.

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The only thing holding me back is that sheds are almost always way bigger than we need/want and surprisingly expensive. I wish we were handy enough to build one! I will most definitely be moving my veggie garden for next year’s growing season, though. I love the idea of two brick-edged beds mirroring one another in a little garden nook separate from the rest of the yard. Speaking of my veggie garden, things are coming along swimmingly. I’ve got a couple of plump, green tomatoes I’m waiting for the perfect moment to pluck before the bugs get them and I’ve been harvesting plenty of crisp sugar snap peas (straight from the vine into my mouth. They don’t even make it inside). My cucumber plants are looking extremely promising and I hope to have some okra soon as well. I’ve found vegetables much easier to grow than shrubs or flowering plants, so let’s hope my luck extends to the herbs. It’ll be easy to remember to weed and water them when I find the bed so charming!

Hello, friends! I hope you had a glorious holiday weekend! Ours was so lovely. We had a crawfish boil at my sister’s to celebrate her birthday. It’s okay to be jealous.

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Her baby goat, Jeffrey, has gotten much less skittish since the last time we were there. We got in some quality goat cuddles!

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They just got another goat this weekend. I can’t wait to meet him!

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On Sunday we went swimming with our friends Cassie and Nic (Jack loved the pool!) and then I spent Memorial Day telling the backyard who’s boss. Can’t wait to post about my new herb garden later this week.

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May is almost over and I want to take a moment to thank my awesome sponsors. I have a new one this month! Michelle runs the blog Dixie Lust, which is all about embracing the fun, food, and culture of the Deep South. I love it. I’m definitely going to try her recipe for crock pot Cajun shrimp ASAP!

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And of course my girl Brandi is still representing her etsy shop over there on the sidebar! She’s clearly been doing much more thrifting and estate sale shopping than me because she’s got all kinds of sweet pretties listed for sale. My favorite are these pineapple candleholders. I love me some vintage brass!

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It’s back to the grind today, but I can’t tell you how grateful I am to all of you for reading. I realized last night that Friday was my 500th post! I definitely couldn’t have made it this far without the encouragement and support of my readers (oh and I guess Nick too, haha). Thank you so much and I hope you have a glorious, glorious Tuesday!