Our Family

Smith Family Easter 2019

We spent this Easter with the Smiths at Tracy (my father-in-law’s sister) and Mark’s house with pretty much everyone.. we were missing a few, who are always missed, but it was such a great day together. It was supposed to be storming all weekend but the weather couldn’t have been more beautiful!

Tracy and Mark prepared Chicken Piccata, ham, fluffy rolls, and carrot bundles for us, all of which were amazing of course. We brought a nice big salad, Dan and Carla brought deviled eggs, Tracy and Mark’s friends Kristen and Steve brought Scalloped Thyme Potatoes, their friends Bob and Jody brought the incredible wine, and Freda brought the Sweet Potatoes… Let’s bring Tracy and Mark’s friends around more often because off of that was so good! I’m sure I’m forgetting something but it was all so yummy…

We all sat between two tables and enjoyed our delicious dinner with amazing red wine and a beautiful toast and prayer from Pete (Tracy & Mark’s son). Tulips are my new favorite flower… Trace had the tables decorated so beautifully simple with the red and yellow ones in clear vases. I was all heart-eyes… They’re just so pretty.

“There are 16 people and 16 carrot bundles - if you take more than one I’ll kill you!” hahaha…

LOVE this shot of Pops and Carla… So happy!

Tyler’s brother Jarod and his beautiful girlfriend Orchid…


Bob & Jody, who were so fun to sit next to and get to know during dinner…


Tyler and Uncle Mark… I just love how close we all are!

Uncle Buck (aka Matt, Dan’s brother) and his daughter Kellie… We missed you Cheryl!!!


Cheers! To family, love, and our undeserving blessing of Christ’s Resurrection. <3

Afterwards, it was time for dessert, particularly cake for Dan (my FIL) and Tracy’s birthdays, both in April. Carla (my lady-in-law) made Tracy a yummy pear and almond cake and Tracy made a carrot cake for Dan, his fave. Tyler and I made the cookies and everything was absolutely scrummy, as Mary Berry would say…

After cake, cookies, and coffee, we all ventured out on the patio, catching up with each other and relaxing with Bloody Marys and sunshine. It was a perfect way to spend the day. :)

Cute shot of Pops and Ty… And the one below of Tracy with her dear girlfriends Freda and Kristen.

It’s impossible to get everyone looking and smiling at the same time, but we tried!


Hope all of you had as much of a lovely Easter as we did! Thanks to our loving family for making it special. We missed everyone on the Cook/Morrison/Elsmo (my) side! That’s what’s hard about holidays, trying to see everyone at once… But we’ll see everyone soon, I’m sure! :)

Happy Easter, everyone!

Cook Christmas 2018 - Our Wonderfully Sweet Family Christmas Time

Tonight we celebrated our little family Christmas at home, where my parents worked so hard to prepare the most beautiful meal and warm holiday atmosphere for us all. This year felt a little extra special because dad was in the hospital several weeks ago, so we were all additionally grateful to all be together.

Every detail was so beautiful and intentional, from the gorgeous Williamsburg-inspired centerpiece to the lemons that held the cocktail sauce for our shrimp hors d'oeuvre.

Dad read an excerpt from an advent devotional book before our prayer, and we then enjoyed every single bite of the delicious dinner set before us… Swedish meatballs, mashed potatoes, hericot vert (those skinny deliciously crisp green beans) with almonds and crispy bacon, fresh homemade rosemary bread, and lingonberry jam. My goodness was it delectable…

We drew names for a little gift exchange, and mom and dad filled stockings for us, the ones our Nana made for us when we were babies, and we each enjoyed opening our gifts and spending time together..

Karlie had Tyler, he had Dad, Dad had Karlie… Mom had my name, and I had Jesse, who had Mom. :)

We each got ornaments from mom and dad - Tyler got a vacuum because he loves to so much lol, I got an adorable kitchen aid mixer, Karlie got a cute little cactus, and Jess received a nutcracker!

Thanks to Karlie who grabbed my camera to snag a few shots too! :)

Even Bax had his own stocking… And Dad is always joking with Karlie about General George Pickett being one of her great great great grandfathers so he framed his picture for her, lol!

We’re going to sleep feeling so blessed and thankful for one another! Now for another family gathering tomorrow, friends together at our house on Christmas Eve, and of course on Christmas Day too!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

Our 2018 Family Vacation | Bethany Beach, Delaware

It’s been so long since my family has gone on vacation together! I mean years… Between the business of life, schedules, finances, and plain and simply just not allowing ourselves to take the time to just do it and go, it was time! My parents graciously reserved a condo for us all at Sea Colony and we absolutely loved it there. We went in the third week of September when peak season was over, which, for us, was the perfect time to go. The beaches were quiet, the sun was still shining, the temperatures were perfect, and everything just felt so right. Going in the middle of the summer when there are so many people, parking lots are packed, cars are flying up and down Coastal Highway, and the beaches are swarming with peoples isn’t necessarily our idea of a relaxing vacation. :)

Tyler and I were so excited to take Bax to the beach for the first time! He doesn’t like to swim but we knew he’d love visiting a new place because he’s always up for an adventure. :) He was all stoked and ready to go with his bandanna and bags packed!


Our trip down was great… we always love crossing over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge especially when the weather is nice!

My parents are so cute, they were outside of the condo building waiting for us to arrive and help us with our things!

Our place was so adorable, fresh, clean, and had the perfect amount of space for us!

That evening after we settled in and enjoyed a spaghetti dinner together, we went out onto the beach! It felt so good to have our toes in the sand and have the entire beach to ourselves. Sea Colony’s beach is private so we were literally the only ones out there and it was awesome.

Seeing Baxter’s face was hilarious! He looooved bolting around the beach and would run into the surf but then quickly get scared of the water and charge back out pretending he wasn’t afraid at all, it was adorable. Little by little he’d get more and more adventurous with the water but he’s only 30 lbs so we didn’t want him going too far in! But luckily he stayed close. It was so much fun. My parents got Tyler a Spider Man kite lol so we flew that and just hung out together… it was so nice!

I woke up and watched the sun come up over the ocean every single morning which was incredibly nurturing for my soul… The sun rises were absolutely beautiful!

Dad had cooked so much for us, something he loves to do. He made his famous french toast, which was amazing as always… We spent our time reading, walking the beach, lounging, and just enjoying being together.

Mid week, Mary and Gordon came down to visit and so we exchanged portraits together on the beach and went out to dinner afterwards! We had such a great time with them!

Aunt Bonnie and Uncle Rich also got a place for the week so we had fun with them too! The tidal pool was up all week long so we enjoyed just sitting our chairs right in it while we soaked up the sun!

We were also able to see our good friends the Reeses, midweek, and all go out to dinner together!


We spent some time at the end of the week taking family pictures on the beach! Uncle Rich found a blow fish! My parents had celebrated their 36th wedding anniversary during the week so it was special for me to take a few nice pictures of them. :)

We feel so blessed to have such a wonderful family with whom to spend time like this. We felt so refreshed coming back home, and can’t wait to be back hopefully next year! We are so grateful for this time spent together!

Family Gathering | Bridal Shower Style!

We are experiencing an exciting time in our family - my brother is getting married this fall! As a bridesmaid and of course a sister, I was excited to host a shower for my soon-to-be SIL Karlie for our side of the family and close friends. It was such a special afternoon spent together! I wanted the time to feel close, intimate, and sweet. We thought a botanical "Garden Party" theme would be sweet so we went for it, decorating with our potted plants, cacti, and herbs, succulents planted in my Nana's vintage teacups, and added potted herbs and sweet little chamomile and lavender flowers from Blair of Sweet Blossoms Florals! Our sunroom was the perfect space for it because we could all fit comfortably around a big table while visiting, eating, and celebrating...

Tyler and I had been preparing the past couple of weeks in planning but executing over the last couple of days, making sandwiches, desserts, and setting it all up. My mom and Tyler's aunt Tracy contributed much of the food too - mom with a salad and famous lemon bars and Tracy with a humus platter and orzo salad! It was so fun to watch the food table come to life in all of it's vibrant colors and flavors - we all know we love to eat! :) 

Old friends started to arrive... people we've known for 30 years... It was so special to have them all under one roof. Women who have been very influential and impacting in Jesse's life, and in the lives of all of us poured in all at once with open arms to hug, greet, smile, and toast to the welcoming of the soon-to-be newest Cook addition! It was wonderful to have Karlie, her mom Lauren, and grandmother Joyce get to meet our family and friends who are family - all of whom are so important to us, people we cherish so greatly, and for them to meet Karlie and her mama and grandmother too was such a fun way to spend the day! It was such a sweet fun time! 

Everyone contributed a recipe card into a special recipe box we had gotten for Karlie to keep as a special token, and to add to for years to come. After we ate, she opened her gifts and we played a couple of games: a mad-lib all about their wedding day and a "how well do we know Jesse" game. 

I'm so thankful to each lovely lady who took the time to come spend part of their Sunday with us... it meant so much and I loved how we were all together! 

Cheers to Jesse and Karlie!

Note: Huge thanks to Barnes Farm Tables (tables and chairs), Blair Roberts of Sweet Blossoms (potted and vases of herbs and flowers), Marcie Lenick of Celebrating Love by Marcie (easel), and Splintered Luv Soaps, Etsy (soaps)!

Easter 2018 | Family Traditions at Uncle Denny & Aunt Nina's

Easter finds a way to become more and more special to me each and ever year. My dad had just gotten home from surgery last year at this time, so Tyler and I decided to host and keep things small and simple. Remember I made dad's famous ham?? The holiday represented a fresh start to the new year, welcoming spring in all of it's colorful vibrancy and life after the chill and stagnancy of winter. This year, Easter came early! But it still made my heart smile. This winter has been particularly long it seems, so having the sun shine on Easter Sunday and the temps rise just a bit was such a treat, even though we're barely into April and the flowers are just beginning to bloom.

This is our first holiday celebrating without Tyler's Opa. Normally we'd spend part of the day with them, and of course my MIL Karen, and then head to my mom's sister Nina's for the rest of the day. But we thought it would be nice to do something different for Nanny this year, and give some change in the usual holiday routine. Nina and Denny always welcome anyone and everyone into their home, especially at Easter, and invite family members and friends on all sides. So of course they were welcome, and have been in the past, but this year was particularly different for Nanny, and for us too. 

So the morning started off with going to Nanny's Easter church service with her and Karen. It was very nice with a bell choir and all of my favorite rejoicing hymns... We went back to Nanny's afterwards to exchange a couple of cards and chocolates, and hopped into our cars to venture to the Morrison's! 

After everyone arrives, we come together to have prayer in a big circle out front. Everyone contributes a dish and we all sit around the house and eat while visiting while the kids play before the Easter Bunny comes (usually one of the teenagers dresses up) and the egg hunt begins! 

This year, Tyler took a big Panoramic pic of all of us before we also took a group shot in front of the house after Uncle Denny said our prayer!

Uncle Rich always does a waffles and strawberries bar which everyone absolutely loves... They are seriously the best! 

Did you see Nanny with her giant piece of Coconut Cake? She loves sweets... :) After everyone has eaten and the bunny has arrived is always my favorite part of the day. The girls (and a few gents too flow in and out) congregate on the porch with blankets and wine to talk! talk! talk! We call them "porch talks" and they are always so wonderful. 

That was Zack trying to get out of the "porch talk" with the girls that got brought inside since it got chilly, hehe... He eventually caved and stayed and talked with us! :) So did Tyler and dad too. It's always such a wonderful time to be together and bond as a family! We are all so very blessed...

Happy Easter everyone!