Why you should start a Book Club!

book club maggie whitley

I’ve been making more of an effort to read more often, either during naptime or once the kids are in bed at night, during the quiet times of day when I really need a few minutes to myself :) After I read Jessica Turner’s The Fringe Hours (which I absolutely loved and highly recommend) I decided it was time to start a book club. Definitely time.

library book club maggie whitley

Being a part of a book club is something I’ve been wanting to do for years. My mom is in one and I know she enjoys it so much. I started by inviting the friends I see frequently, then I invited some friends I don’t see very often (but wish I did), and then lastly I suggested for these friends to invite someone they know.

There are about 13 women in the book club, which is perfect because I know not everyone will be able to make our meetings (we’re meeting every 6 weeks to discuss the book), but there are still enough women who can come that book club for sure happen. And honestly, I need this book club. It’s a dedicated bit of time on my calendar just for me. It gives me a personal hobby to focus on in between meetings. Reading enlightens me, calms my mind and gives me a fresh perspective. I host at our apartment on a Saturday morning, and everyone who shows up can drink their coffee while it’s still hot and doesn’t have to cut the food on their plate into sixteen small pieces. Or share ;)

We had our second meeting last weekend; it was so refreshing and hope-filled. For our first book we read Still Alice (a heavy topic for sure, but so well-written and incredibly interesting to read), and our current book is The Husband’s Secret. A close second for book #2 was Dear Mr. Knightley. A book I read a few months ago (and highly recommend (it was so detailed!)) is What Alice Forgot, if you’re looking for one more title to add to your reading list.

I should have known book club was in my future. I mean, I was a very enthusiastic member of The Baby-Sitters Club when I was a tweenie and COULD NOT get enough of the books ;) And every time I visit my parents I’m tempted to bring my entire collection back to Los Angeles.

(Zack, if you’re reading this: that was your warning.)

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Ten things I love // vol. 4

april ten things maggie whitley

As a personal exercise to start noticing the small things around me I started a blog series titled “Ten things I love”. It’s been a while since I made my list of ten things, but that’s OK, I decided I’ll just re-start the series. There’s much to be thankful for, sometimes we just need to have more quiet to notice our lists. I’m noticing a trend this month around nature, color and “moving forward”, and that feels a bit accurate! :)

In recognizing the happy, here are ten things that give me a lot of inspiration:

1. kale, used in this “famous” 30-minute soup recipe

2. Maxwell’s toy giraffe (from the Noah’s Ark set), it’s the perfect size for sharing with a little sister

3. pretty perfume

4. even prettier fabric

5. a tiny succulent (a wedding reception favor from last fall)

6. gorgeous yellow flowers from our neighborhood

7. a basil leaf (we have a plant in our kitchen windowsill)

8. baby spoons!

9. special cups for coffee & tea

10. blue skies against green foliage = swoon!

(affiliate links used throughout)

Now it’s your turn! What three things hold a lot of meaning for you? What three things do you find yourself reaching for day after day? What three things do you enjoy treating yourself to for self-care? (Past “Ten things I love” posts can be found here.)

Happy Monday my loves!

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Maxwell’s second birthday party!

maxwell's 2nd birthday maggie whitley

We celebrated Maxwell’s second birthday last month with a construction themed party at the park. His first birthday party was so fun (and smooth!) that we decided to hit “repeat” and meet at the same location a year later.

maxwell's 2nd birthday maggie whitley

We brought with us a huge bundle of blue, yellow and white balloons and a double layer round birthday cake (made by Grandma Whitley). Since it was a late-morning birthday party we served fresh fruit, yogurt & granola, pastries from a local bakery, water and juice. We decorated a few picnic tables under a big tree with some toy trucks, traffic cones and couple of Max’s larger construction trucks. It was adorable :)

maxwell's 2nd birthday maggie whitley

Max is big into tools, building, and making “crashing” noises — anything that requires dirt basically, so it was an easy decision to give him a construction-themed party.

Max party invites pear tree greetings maggie whitley

Our friends at Pear Tree Greetings gifted us with party invitations, thank you cards and return address stickers. They coordinated with the birthday theme perfectly. I added “Whitley Ag” to the¬†excavator which gave me +10 points with my father-in-law :) The entire time I was addressing the invites I had a little smile on my face. Needless to say, we are big fans of Pear Tree Greetings for celebrating life’s moments (one of my journalism major college friends even works there).

Maxwell birthday cake maggie whitley

The weeks leading up to Max’s birthday were spent practicing the Happy Birthday song, including when to yell, “STOP!” — because that’s what’s important when you’re two years old, right? ;) We practiced “the happy song” multiple times a day, which worked out well because after he blew out his birthday candles he requested we light them again to sing another round. And so we did!

Nony friends maggie whitley

Natalie’s ankles are crossed (such a lady) while her friends coo over her

And I just have to share, picking out a few gifts to give Max on his special day was so amazing. It felt more like a gift to Zack and I, we enjoyed it that much. The morning of his birthday, March 12th, he received from us a talking Mickey Mouse doll, a new set of watercolor paints, a new pad of art paper, and a doctor’s kit. His grandparents spoiled him with a super hero cape, rocking chair, a couple of outfits, and an excavator (it plays country music, oh my gosh, adorable!).

friends maggie whitley

My best girl friends: Cristina, Rhiannon, and Joanna. We were ALL pregnant at the same time (for like 3 days) in 2014 and our babies were born in February, July and October. These women are so dear to me, and I love that we gather often to eat and drink and talk. We meet for book club monthly, have beach days, share advice, and celebrate our many accomplishments. My transition to Los Angeles a few years ago would have been very different if not for these women being in my life. I love them and cherish our friendship.

Celebrating Maxwell’s birthday with our friends was such a blessing. Zack’s mom was visiting at the time and it was wonderful having her with us. Last year, for Max’s first birthday, my parents were in Los Angeles visiting. We love having our families celebrate with us!

Nony balloons maggie whitley

family maggie whitley

These are joyous memories, and having Maxwell as our son is a cherished gift.

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“The Best” Chocolate Chip Cookies.

"the best" chocolate chip cookies | maggie whitley designs

One of my most favorite things to do with Maxwell is bake. He is so enthusiastic about baking, and he loves cleaning up the dishes afterward :) We rotate between three recipes when we bake, one being this chocolate chip cookie recipe. This cookie recipe is “the best” because the edges are crispy & buttery and the inside stays soft. Plus, you only need one bowl for mixing the dough. Hooray!

A note from the baker: we use mini chocolate chips and have found the recipe tastes best when you sneak in a few scoops of chips before adding them to the bowl.

“THE BEST” CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons hot water
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

 

DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Cream together the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Dissolve baking soda in hot water. Add to batter along with salt. Stir in flour, chocolate chips, and nuts. Drop by large spoonfuls onto ungreased pans.
3. Bake for about 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges are nicely browned.
4. Serve warm with a glass of cold milk ;)

(recipe originally found here)

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