A Pretty Dress

In my closet hangs a pretty, pleated, flowing, snakeskin dress.

I don't remember the exact date that I first wore it.  

I do remember a co-worker commenting on how she missed the "pretty dress memo" when I came to work in it one day. I had that job a decade ago.

This dress has been my Sunday best and business staple. I've worn it as a single person and as a wife. A working professional, and a mother.

It's even been stretched into a maternity dress for the first half of all 3 pregnancies.

It's forgiving like that.

There are periods where I get tired of it and leave it in the back of my closet for a while. But I always end up pulling it out after a bit of time has passed, and thinking, "This is such a great dress."

That's what classics are all about, don't you think? 

Do you have a favorite staple that's been in your closet for years?

---> Nicki

Sharing with > Not Dead Yet Style > Lipgloss and Crayons > Oak and Oats > Coastal Charm > Tumbleweed Contessa > Elizabeth Joan Designs > Twelve O'Eight > Huckleberry Love > Sand & Sisal > Cozy Little House > Art is Beauty > Elizabeth & Co. > A Stroll Through Life > The Pleated Poppy > We Are That Family > Katherine's Corner > Let Your Light Shine Thursday > Tres Chic Fashion Thursday > The Red Closet Diary > Artsy Fartsy Mama > Chic California > Imparting GraceThe Charm of Home > Craftberry Bush > Liz MarieNancherrow > Shabby Nest > Pieced Pastimes > Thoughts from Alice > Silver Pennies Sundays > It's Overflowing > Clever Chicks > By Stephanie Lynn >  

All images by Nicki Hawes


Snapshots {Labor Day at the Lakes}

Minneapolis has a string of lakes running through the city, surrounded by beautiful old homes and circling bike paths. It has quaint summer music shows, trolley rides, and a massive rose garden. It's the kind of place that convinces a girl to leave the west and endure subzero winters. 

We live only 10 minutes away, but don't get down here as often as I would like. That's the way it goes in any city, I suppose. Sometimes it's hard to break away from daily life and enjoy what is close by. 

We spent a few lazy Labor Day hours here, and did all the things our children love. 

We rode the trolley, fed corn to the fish and bread to the ducks, walked to the ice cream shop, and soaked in a gorgeous day. 

The boys also got to practice their American Ninja Warrior skills. 

Simple things. 

I think days like this are an essential ingredient to strong families. Leaving behind the housework and lists for a weekend, a day, or just a few hours can facilitate bonding that's hard to come by in other settings. I want my children to know fun, carefree Mom, and not just all-business, trying-to-run-a-household Mom. 

Whether you are near mountains or lakes, parks or trails, the sea or the desert, I highly recommend getting out and enjoying your city. 

Happy memory-making!
---> Nicki

Sharing with > Ember Grey > She Lives Free > A Juggling Mom > Life of Faith > A Mama's Story > Oak and OatsModest Mom > A Harvest of Blessing > Cornerstone Confessions > Works for me Wednesday > Things I Can't SayImparting Grace > The Wiegands > A Mama Collective > This Darling Day > Pieced Pastimes > Twelve O'Eight > Katherine's Corner > Artsy Fartsy Mama > Chic California > Imparting Grace > Nancherrow > It's Overflowing >

All images by Nicki Hawes


Monster Trucks

These little replicas of giant trucks litter almost every room of our house. Anyone acquainted with our family knows what a major part they play in our daily life. They consume every spare minute, are the subject of every conversation with visitors, and each rug in the house ends up molded to form a ramp.   

I'm not sure how the fascination came about. I went to a monster truck rally in college as part joke, part something to do. I show off the pictures I took of the event, just so my kids know I was once "with it." Beyond that, Scott and I have never really been car people, let alone truck people, and not even close to MONSTER truck people.

But here we are, living in a house overflowing with little, tough machines. A few years back, our son figured out how to find like-minded souls on YouTube (kind of like blogging, eh?), and watched clips and clips of kids displaying their monster truck "collections." Scott and I would scoff and say, "It's ridiculous how many trucks that kid owns. We would never waste money on that many trucks." Right?! The last time we counted, we reached 27 trucks. I hate to admit it, but we now can make our own YouTube collection video. 

(It's not all our fault, considering everyone who gives our boys gifts gets them the latest truck. Also, potty training bribery may have contributed).

The most amusing thing about this habit is the contradiction. These little, sweet voices referring to names like "Stone Crusher" and "Maximum Destruction" in the most innocent context. 

"Bad news is going to eat breakfast with me, OK Mom?"

"I choose to snuggle with Ice Monster when I go to bed."

"Avenger told Gravedigger he was sorry, and Gravedigger forgives him because he's really nice."

In a way, my children aren't so different from their trucks. With larger than life energy, they are just as loud, clunky, adventurous, and free-spirited. They hit life hard, and are never hindered when banged and bruised.

Yes, monster trucks mark period in our life, and I will be a little sad when they take a backseat on the toy shelf. 

Judging by the rugs in our house, that's not happening any time soon. 


Almond Layer Cake with Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting

I made a similar version of this cake for my daughter's birthday a few months ago, and promised a recipe. We have another birthday in the family this week (mine!), which was the perfect excuse to make it again. 

This cake is not for the faint of heart. If you are looking for something "low-calorie," "clean," or "light," you may want to move along ;).

If you are looking for something "rich," or "decadent," - - - something all-out special for a once-in-a-blue-moon treat, here is your recipe:


3 3/4 c all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
3 3/4 tsp baking powder
1 c (2 sticks) butter
2 1/2 c sugar
2 tsps vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
3 large eggs
2 c milk

1 c almonds for decoration
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease two (or four, if you have them) 9" cake pans.
Whisk the flour, salt, and baking powder and set aside.
In a mixer, cream the butter on high for 30 seconds.
Add the sugar and extracts, and mix well.
Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well with each addition.
Alternately add the dry mixture and milk, beating on a low speed until just combined.
Divide the batter into four equal portions. Pour two portions into two prepared cake pans and bake for 20-25 minutes, then bake the next two portions.
Cool on a baking rack.


8 oz. cream cheese- softened
1/2 c (1 stick) butter- softened
1 1/4 c sugar
3 c heavy whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract

Pour all ingredients except the whipping cream into a large bowl and mix with a mixer whisk attachment on high.
Scrape the sides of the bowl, then start mixer again and slowly pour in whipping cream.
Beat until the frosting has stiff peaks.

Divide the frosting into four equal portions.
Layer portions of cake, frosting, cake, frosting, cake, frosting, cake, and top with the last portion of frosting.
Sprinkle the top with almonds, and any other garden herbs and edible flowers (I used hosta flowers, catmint, and lemon thyme, which were all for looks and taken off for eating).

Chill in the refrigerator for 1-24 hours.

*For my daughter's birthday, we made this cake without almonds or almond extract.  We added fresh peaches and blueberries to the top, and some food coloring to the frosting. It was delicious served with black raspberry ice cream*


---> Nicki

Cake recipe adapted from BHG
Frosting recipe adapted from here

Sharing with > Mod Vintage Life > The Dedicated House > Confessions of a Plate Addict > Coastal Charm > Rustic Refined > Tumbleweed Contessa > Elizabeth Joan Designs > Twelve O'Eight > Huckleberry Love > Sand & Sisal > Cozy Little House > Art is Beauty > Elizabeth & Co. > A Stroll Through Life > We Are That Family > Katherine's Corner> Artsy Fartsy Mama > Chic California > Imparting Grace > What's Cooking Love  > Miz Helen's Country Cottage > The Charm of Home > Craftberry Bush > Liz MarieNancherrow > Bacon Time with Hungry Hypo > Shabby Nest > Pieced Pastimes > Thoughts from Alice > Silver Pennies Sundays > It's Overflowing > Clever Chicks > By Stephanie Lynn >

All images by Nicki Hawes


Late Summer Outfit

This is the time of year when we start thinking of scarves and boots, but the weather hasn't quite made the jump to fall. My wardrobe is definitely in that in-between phase. I can't abandon my warm weather items just yet, so I find myself mixing. Short sleeves with long pants, long sleeves with summer skirts, a little summer, a little fall.

I picked up a new t-shirt at the end of the season at Marshall's. I decided to cling to summer by adding a flowing white skirt (Labor Day, Shmabor Day), but give a nod to fall with my boots and mustard necklace. 

Just hanging out in between. 

When I'm not wearing linen skirts and high heeled boots, I usually throw in a pair of jeans. 

The pants are more fitting for Costco runs and wiping sticky fingers, but I did enjoy my flow-y skirt on Sunday. 

Are you starting to transition your wardrobe to fall?

All images by Nicki Hawes


#LifePlusColor: Royal Blue

Royal blue is the brighter, cheerier, louder version of this otherwise reserved color. Like its blue cousins, it is also stable and collected, but packs a little more ambition and determination to grab attention. The royal blue color trend has maintained a presence with Pantone trend forcasts for a while. Here are some appearances on Instagram:

If you come across an amazing shade of royal blue in your day and want to share, use the hashtag #lifepluscolor. I (@tshirtjeansnicki) would love to see it. 

Have a great Monday!

---> Nicki

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