Celebrating Dr. Seuss With BookSpring in Austin!


Happy (112th) Birthday Dr. Seuss! From the classics everyone knows and loves like The Cat in the Hat and The Grinch, to recently published books What Pet Should I Get?. Dr. Seuss is, in my opinion, the ultimate children’s book writer. His work is still so widely loved and read that it’s hard to believe he hasn’t been on this Earth for 25 years. Imagining childhood without the words of Dr. Seuss is a bit like imagining childhood without Disney characters or popsicles, and I’m forever grateful to the man otherwise known as Theodor Seuss Geisel for inspiring in me a lifetime love of reading, rhyme, and writing.

Yesterday, I got to celebrate the great rhymer and illustrator’s birthday as a guest reader at T. A. Brown Elementary School. T. A. Brown, along with over fifty other schools in the Central Texas area, is part of the community of schools served by BookSpring. BookSpring is an Austin non-profit that reaches over 40,000 kids with over 140,000 books each year and it has an amazing vision: A community where all children have the opportunity to become literate.

I love BookSpring’s Graphic about how they address literacy!

For over forty years, BookSpring has been the local facilitator for the national Reading is Fundamental (RIF) program, runs a huge Read-A-Thon every year, partners with MedicAid clinics to give “Prescriptions for Reading” (how cute is that?), and “creates transformative experiences with lifelong impact between adults and children through reading and reading aloud.” In 2015, they distributed over 50,000 “forever books” to kids who otherwise might not have the chance to own a book of their own. I’m lucky to be working with BookSpring all spring as my Junior League of Austin volunteer placement. I’d love to tell you all about BookSpring and/or Junior League, so please contact me if you’d like to learn more.


The school has a fabulous librarian who decorated the whole library in Seuss theme, organized a poster contest (I was a judge – it was a tough call!), and has dozens of guest readers coming in all week to read to her classes and hang with the kids. She was even dressed as a – very chic I might add – Cat in the Hat complete with tail!

The book of the day was And To Think I Saw It On Mulberry Street, which I hadn’t read before, making it extra special and now I have a new favorite Dr. Seuss to add to my shelf! A group of excited third graders trooped into the library, giggling at the tall girl in an even taller Cat in the Hat-style hat (I’ll try to get a picture for y’all). As I read the book to them, there lots of insightful commentary on the ever-wilder adventures the main character had on the way home from school. Then we got to do Seuss-inspired activities at stations. We colored our own Lorax mustaches (a favorite), played Seussical games on Nook e-readers, dominated crossword puzzles, decorated bookmarks, and more.


Library was a favorite class of mine (Mrs. Dillard was the BEST!) in school and I loved seeing these kids so excited to be there. Even more exciting was listening to them tell me about what books they were reading – The Dork Diaries are big y’all – and their own favorite Dr. Seuss books. Dr. Seuss wanted kids of all ages to use their imaginations, read, and explore life, and I’d like to think he was smiling down at us yesterday, celebrating his life’s work by reading, coloring, and playing!


Happy Galentine’s Day


I’m all about love, lifting up and celebrating relationships, but honestly, Valentine’s Day has never been my thing. I tend to feel that way about all greeting card holidays. That’s why I love the growing Galentine’s Day trend – let’s celebrate our sisters & friends! 

Lifting each of you precious sisters up this weekend – and know that it doesn’t matter if you’re married, single, dating, divorced, widowed, or engaged – God’s amazing, overwhelming love for you is free and present every single second of your life. He loves us more than we will ever be able to understand – more than any other person on earth can love us. 

In lieu of sending every awesome girl I know flowers (although that would be cool… Maybe one day!), this is my Galentine’s Day card to YOU! 

Read this out loud, filling in the blanks with your name. Say it whenever you’re scared, or tired, or happy, or lonely, or feeling blessed. It’s always true!



Dogs: A Lesson In Unconditional Love

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I just had a moment with my two dogs, Rosie & Ruger, and I was overwhelmed by their capacity to love me, each other, and my husband, who is the center of their entire world (it’s actually scary intense how obsessed they are with him – and cute!). I think all pups love their people beyond words, and I also think rescue dogs (like ours) end up with an even deeper love – we’re their heroes! Opinions vary on the spiritual state of pets, but regardless of where you stand, it’s hard to deny that we can all learn a lot from dogs when it comes to giving unconditional love. 

Two Dog Love
Rosie & Ruger: true BFF love!

It’s always been hard for me to fully accept and understand just how much God loves each of us. Even me – little ol’ tiny grain of sand in a massive world me. I can totally accept that He loves you – I love you, so why wouldn’t He love you one hundred times more? This has become a stumbling block for me when I want to grow my faith and be able to actually live in the perfect peace of Christ Jesus. If I can’t accept the love, how can I accept the peace? 

I like the power of this version from The Message

So, when I have moments of feeling absolutely adored beyond all others by my pups, I get a glimpse, a momentary peak, at how God sees you, and me, and everyone on this earth. And I feel like I’m sitting on a beach, feeling that glorious sunshine on my skin, flooded with Vitamin-D induced happiness. Then I’m back in the house, full of gratitude and awe, and ready to face the rest of the day.  

Full Power Verse [To Remember That God Loves You & Is For You] – Romans 8:28-39

It’s Winter, Are You OK?

Winter is the easiest time of year to get sick – we spend more time indoors, breathing recirculated air in buildings, the flu is on the rampage, it’s cold (sometimes) and it’s tempting to only eat comfort foods and hibernate.

No one wants to feel run down, constantly battling a cold or runny nose, get achy and have a general malaise. If you have any of these issues (as I do every winter), the following three actions can help.

Cute Winter Dog
Don’t get SAD, get glad!
  1. Take Vitamin D: even if you think you get enough via sunlight and diet, you probably don’t. If you’re worried at all about it, a simple blood test can tell you your level, and just because it is in the “normal” range, doesn’t mean it’s high enough. Normal is for everyone else – you’re extraordinary and want to live an extraordinarily healthy life, so go get a bottle of 5,000mg Vitamin D capsules, take one every morning for a month, and see how you feel. 
    • Bonus: Your hair and nails will be insanely strong and fast-growing the longer you keep this up. My hair grew something crazy like 8+ inches in a year after I started my regimen.
  2. Take Vitamin C: not those gummy chewies, not the drinks, but real deal Vitamin C swallowable pills. The advice I was given that has prevented Brian and me from getting sick this winter (from things that aren’t allergies – can’t vitamin those away… yet) is to start with 500mg on day 1. On day 2, increase to 1000mg, then increase in 500mg increments each day until it makes your stomach hurt. The next day, back off by one (for reference, I take 1500mg/day and Brian takes 2000mg, so I took 2000mg on day 4, tummy hurt, so I backed off to 1500mg on day 5 and continue with that now!) Click for more info.
    • Bonus: The antioxidant Vitamin C will make your skin radiant and help kill cancer-causing free radicals in your body.
  3. Use a Happy Light: What’s a happy light? It’s a special lamp that emits light in a spectrum that simulates the sun (the main two types are by Verilux and Philips). Use it to defeat SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), boost your Vitamin D intake, regulate your sleep (you have sleep issues don’t you? if not, I’m supremely jealous, cause I have them like whoa), and make mornings brighter, easier, and more natural. Mayo Clinic agrees.
    • Bonus: I got mine on major discount at Tuesday Morning. Plus, it helps more than just SAD too: click here to read!

Bonus Round… Drink Immunity Tea

Health guru Kimberly Snyder (she’s the original green smoothie evangelist and her book, The Beauty Detox Solution, changed my method of eating and my approach to food in general), has a great Immunity Tea recipe. It works! Get the recipe and step-by-step instructions on her website.



Confession: Part 1 (of 2)

I have a confession. Since last spring (2015), several people have asked me:

  1. “How do you look so great?”
  2. “How did you cook [insert meal posted to Instagram]?”
  3. “How can I do it, too?”

While flattering, it also scares me to be truly honest about what I consider “triggering” subjects for most women – namely weight loss/ diets/ getting healthy/ lifestyle choices. I’m scared to lead people in the wrong direction. I’m scared that if what worked for me does not, in fact, work for someone else, resentment and mistrust might build.

But, I started a blog called The Nestette (blithely sitting on an airplane en route to London, momentarily forgetting that a blog I love, Myquillen Smith’s, is called The Nester… oops) anyway. I did this without resolving these feelings and doubts, wanting a place to store and share my recipes, hobbies, tips/tricks I’ve been taught or learned, and stories. It obviously ended quickly because of the aforementioned fears.

After taking time to wade through these feelings, and learning about a concept called “the fear of man” (basically the root of what we currently refer to as lack of self-esteem, confidence, and trust… for more read this book), I realize that if not now, when? So, I’ve made a commitment to do a Jon Acuff-inspired “Do Over” challenge and put things out there, and to NOT let the potential opinions of others be a road block.

So, welcome to my [new] tiny corner of the internet, Alden’s Apron. All opinions, photos, recipes, trips/tricks, and more are mine, unless otherwise noted and with sources linked, if possible. My husband and two pups support this endeavor, but aren’t responsible for [most] of its content. 

Confession: Part 2 (of 2)

Onward and upward to the [possibly] more exciting and informative part of this experiment: What are these things people ask me about, and how can you do them, too? (Sidenote: more in-depth explanations to follow and will be covered extensively throughout this blog.)

Here’s the rough outline:

Q: “How do you look so great?”

A: Whole30 and Jesus.

Q: “How did you cook [insert meal posted to Instagram]?”

A: At home, usually for far less moolah than you’d think, and, sometimes, even without as much time/effort as you might believe!

Q: “How can I do it, too?”

A: By taking on only one new challenge at a time, being patient with yourself, and by doing things for [mostly] the right reasons.

I’ll go over Whole30, bits of my spiritual journey (mostly wisdom given graciously to me by people much smarter and deeper than myself), to be or not to be Gluten Free (like me!), DIY tutorials for Whole30/Gluten Free recipes, knitting, & crafting; homemaking tips/tricks, and my grocery store/shopping hacks. If you have more detailed questions or want me to do a tutorial of something specific, email me or leave a comment on this post.

You might also wonder what all this blog might cover. While I make no guarantees, as I have a wide spectrum of interests, the general list [probably] is as follows:

  • Whole30: how, what, & why
  • Gluten Free Living, Cooking, & Traveling
  • Book Reviews and recommended reading lists (Follow me on Goodreads here)
  • Marriage & Homemaking: from laundry and cleaning to best practices we’ve been lucky to learn
  • Dave Ramsey tips: budgeting, coupons, making it work, & why it’s worth it
  • Health: healthy life = happier life
  • Spiritual Life: how mine came about, cool things you can do for yours, books to read, & things to think about
  • Knitting: how to do it, what to use, where to buy it, etc.
  • Life with dogs: occasional tails (hmmm) of our two rescue pups Rosie & Ruger
  • DIY everything: I assume I can figure it out, make it myself, or find a less expensive workaround 90% of the time. This’ll be my outlet for sharing my nerd-alert level of research that helps me do it, the how-tos, and the loads of bloopers/blunders
  • Lists: because who doesn’t love a good list?

Feel free to ask questions below or request specific things to be covered! I love nothing more than a good research challenge, so please, put my obsessive research tendencies to good use.