a family.

October 23, 2014

Last year at HopeSpoken, I got to meet a sweet new friend who had a dream and saw it through- Neighbor's Table. Neighbor's Table has a vision for a national, unprecedented movement of ordinary people loving extraordinarily around the table.  I have been itching to have an evening with her since the moment I met her and last week I got that chance.

"Sidewalk chalk, soccer balls, chase, dinosaurs, hide & go seek, dolls and little red wagons... these are the things that come with the gaggle of children that gathered at our table this evening."

" They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts." acts 2:46

A movement. Hearts around a table, preparing in the kitchen along side each other, community, fellowship. A family.

A family of friendships to do life with.

“The heart of hospitality is about creating space for someone to feel seen and heard and loved. It's about declaring your table a safe zone, a place of warmth and nourishment.” ― Shauna Niequist,

The amazingly talented Kate Foley blessed us with gorgeous flower arrangements. We did a potluck dinner and spent hours around the table connecting. 3 couples, 12 children. A family. 

" This isn't about recipes. This is about a family, a tribe, a little band of people who walk through it all together, up close and in the mess, real time and unvarnished." -Shauna N

Flower Arrangements c/o: Katie Foley

 Dinner at Neighbor's Table



October 21, 2014

ANNAPOLIS AND CO: White Bean Chili With Chicken

Mary Beth Johnson is a photographer, blogger, and journalist with a passion for finding beauty in unexpected places and celebrating the everyday. Originally from the east coast, she now lives in Oklahoma with her husband and three children (dubbed "schooners”). From an office full of fingerprints and walls scattered with imperfect artwork, she’s writing her first book, a memoir of her parents' journey in raising 14 children, and her own lifestyle blog, Annapolis & Company.

ANNAPOLIS AND CO: White Bean Chili With Chicken
We don't keep a lot of traditions in our house, but this white chili is one of them. October rolls in, the kids pull out their animal costumes we re-wear year after year for trick-or-treating, and this mixture of white beans, onion, creams, and shredded chicken goes promptly on the stove.

  ANNAPOLIS AND CO: White Bean Chili With Chicken

There's something about the familiar that can awaken all sorts of memories and no matter where you find yourself at the moment, you feel a sense of home. A sense of calm. I like that about traditions. This Halloween, we're settling into a new state, a new home, and a new routine with a new baby, but simple recipes like these remind me that it is ALL good. And now I'm off to make some of my grandmother's cornbread to add to my nostalgia...
  ANNAPOLIS AND CO: White Bean Chili With Chicken


1 lb. chicken cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tablespoon vegetable oil {or you can substitute olive or canola for a healthier option}
2 cans great northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 can chicken broth
1 can chopped green chiles
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup whipping cream (or milk)

Sauté chicken, onion, and garlic powder in oil until not pink. Add everything but creams. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.
{This is where you can freeze the chili. Simply cool it a little, pour into a gallon zip lock and store in the freezer.} Or move onto the next step...
Remove from heat, stir in creams. Serve immediately. (If you're feeling indulgent, serve with corn chips.)  

*All photography is my own.// post byAnnapolis & Company


October 20, 2014

You read that right!!! I was super honored to have the opportunity to share a little "How To" With Essential Oils over on Cameron Diaz's site. You can read the full post here.  
Also a fun fashion post with her here.

Today we are giving away her incredible book, The Body Book!

About the Book 

 Cameron Diaz shares her formula for becoming happier, healthier, and stronger in this positive, essential guide grounded in science and inspired by personal experience, now a #1 New York Times bestseller. Throughout her career, Cameron Diaz has been a role model for millions of women. By her own candid admission, though, this fit, glamorous, but down-to-earth star was not always health-conscious. Learning about the inseparable link between nutrition and the body was just one of the life-changing lessons that has fed Cameron’s hunger to educate herself about the best ways to feed, move, and care for her body. 

In The Body Book, she shares what she has learned and continues to discover about nutrition, exercise, and the mind/body connection. The Body Book does not set goals to reach in seven days or thirty days or a year. It offers a holistic, long-term approach to making consistent choices and reaching the ultimate goal: a long, strong, happy, healthy life.

Giveaway/sweepstakes rules: No purchase or payment necessary. Sweepstakes prize is listed above. By entering this sweepstakes, the entrant acknowledges that they are eligible for this sweepstakes according to all laws set forth by their home state. US residents only. Entrants who do not meet these criteria will be disqualified. Winner is liable for any taxes associated with the prize. The promotion period for this giveaway will close next week and a winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter. The winner will be contacted privately and CaseyLeigh may choose not to publish the winning entry on this site. Void where prohibited. Sweepstakes sponsored by the body book.


October 19, 2014

Casey Tank c/o: Shop Love Threads

Casey Necklace c/o: Amy Waltz Designs (here)
Casey Rings c/o: Amy Waltz Designs  ( here & hereCaseylove20 for 20% off

Casey Jacket c/o: Evy's Tree

The Face of Loss.

October 16, 2014

I traveled out of town last month and the night before I left, Chris helped me update my phone and ipod and clear off all of the photos- all that fun stuff the evening before I was to jet off on an airplane. Then about a week or two ago I was sitting at my desk late at night, like I often do. My headphones were in and I was quietly typing and editing photos. My ipod set off this strange, loud alert. I grabbed it and it said " congrats! you are 28 weeks pregnant". I blankly stared at it for a minute, letting it soak in. When we updated my phone, the pregnancy app that I had all filled in from before,  the same one that I had deleted after my D&C- redownloaded and was back up and running on that device. 

My sweet baby girl who was to be my Christmas baby was there in the dark of the night, staring at me in the face. 

My December angel was there like a whisper. In a moment, a raw, hard truth-facing moment. I gripped gratitute- grateful to remember and cherish her in an intimate moment alone in the thick of the night. 

This loss I have tucked away more. This time it seemed easier to not face it so much. Maybe if I don't talk about it, maybe it means I dreamt it, maybe it hadn't happened. But it did happen. The first time I was so raw and so desperate to share my thoughts and feelings and emotions as I processed them, as I navigated through them step by step. Then this second time in a way it seemed like a more silent grief. Can I even face this?

Yesterday was October 15.  In October 1988, President Ronald Reagan declared October as National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month saying, "When a child loses his parent, they are called an orphan. When a spouse loses her or his partner, they are called a widow or widower. When parents lose their child, there isn’t a word to describe them." 

Pieces of us are forever lost when we lose this way. Yet through time I do believe that God can bring redemption through our stories, He can thread hope and love into our lives and speak wild, amazing beauty through the life of our sweet mist..... a little breath that comes and goes and forever changes us. 

I have my rainbow and shes everything. She is beauty, love, hope and redemption. she's the apple of my eye- she represents being fought for and cherished and loved in big, fierce ways. 

For the mamas that have to make the dreaded pharmacy call to tell them to please quit calling to say your prenatal vitamins are still waiting to be picked up. That your baby is gone and you won't be coming in to get that prescription.

To the mamas who have the silent reminders along with the loud ones, the remaining baby bump, the hospital bracelet, the empty swaddled blankets.

The returned baby gifts and the empty nurseries. 

You are the face of loss. you are one in four. But you are more than that, you get to be the picture of love. Love and peace and grace as eyes are upon you when you experience a hurt like no other.

We, together, can walk this road. We can stand next to the women that are raw and broken and alone. And the friends who don't know how to respond. We can educate people on the hurt and how every loss is different and each time we are going to face it different. 

Our angels are waiting for us. Here are prayers to that double rainbow. 



October 15, 2014


Mary Beth Johnson is a photographer, blogger, and journalist with a passion for finding beauty in unexpected places and celebrating the everyday. Originally from the east coast, she now lives in Oklahoma with her husband and three children (dubbed "schooners”). From an office full of fingerprints and walls scattered with imperfect artwork, she’s writing her first book, a memoir of her parents' journey in raising 14 children, and her own lifestyle blog, Annapolis & Company.

Everyone should have a comfortable soup recipe to fall back on for those times in life when you need a feel-good meal or a quick fix for a sore throat. This chicken orzo soup has been there for me countless times and never failed me. The ingredients are all easy to keep on hand and if I stop to pick up a rotisserie chicken I can make it in around 30 minutes - such a blessing on nights when I need something on the dinner table pronto or a nice lunch for a friend coming over last minute.

The thing I love about soup is that it is easy to customize. You can make this vegetarian by omitting the chicken and using vegetable broth - it will still be hearty and flavorful with the fresh parsley and avocado on top. Speaking of avocado, do not skip it...I think it makes this soup!

serves 8-10

1 ready-cooked rotisserie chicken (or 3-4 large, cooked chicken breasts)
 1 medium onion, diced 
2 minced garlic cloves
8-10 oz of frozen mixed veggies (or feel free to add in a couple cups of the fresh veggies of your choice in place of the frozen!)
1/2 cup of chopped fresh parsley
 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
 5 cups of lower sodium chicken broth
 1 cup of water
 1/4 tsp. pepper salt to taste (check and see if you think it needs it at the end)
 1 1/2 cups of cooked orzo (according to package directions). 
Cook orzo to al dente, not super soft ripe avocado for serving

Heat chicken broth, water, and tomatoes in a large pot while you dice up all the meat (both white and dark) from the rotisserie chicken. Place the chicken in the pot with the broth (heat should be on about medium). Heat oil in a skillet and dice onion. Place onion in skillet and cook until soft but not brown, stirring occasionally. Add in garlic and cook another minute or two, until good and fragrant. Add in 8-10 oz of frozen veggies, and sauté for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then throw it all in the pot with the chopped parsley, pepper, and cooked orzo.
Let it all simmer about 10 minutes, and serve each bowl with sliced avocado on top. Enjoy!

*All photography is my own.// post byAnnapolis & Company

Essential Oils with Drea.

October 14, 2014

SO excited to have my girl Drea here today sharing how she uses her Essential Oils! She is such a dear friend to me and someone who inspires me in hundreds of ways! She is one of the very first blogs that I have followed and overtime I have been blessed with the opportunity to get to know her more...her friendship is a treasure. Still jealous my guy has had the chance to hang with her, her cute crew in their amazing home- maybe I need a Florida road trip soon :).

EO's have rocked my world in so many beautiful ways and I really wanted to share how friends of mine use them as well. For those interested in more info, you can check out my site here. 

+++++++++ Hey guys! So I wanted to talk a little about essential oils for everyday. Chances are you’re reading this because you already use and love essential oils or because you’re curious about them— but maybe a bit hesitant. I mean, let’s be completely real here, the world of essentials oils can be an overwhelming place— there are just SO many— and they do SO many things! 

The good news is, essential oils, like most good things in life, doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You can learn about which essential oils are right for you (casey is great resource for that!) and pick the best ones to add into your life, while slowly building your collection as you need. I started with one staple oil in my house (oregano oil) and eventually I slowly started adding more— now I have a pretty good collection going for everyday or weekly use! In fact I have a whole natural living section on my blog, jam packed with ideas and how to’s to learn more. But I wanted to take it even more of a step back and talk about some everyday uses that don’t require any mixing or making— just good ole’ tips and tricks to use essential oils (and sometimes a bit of coconut oil) to add to your life. 

So, one of the absolute easiest ways to use essential oils is for aroma-therapy. I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that I feel life changing effects by doing this trick— but I will tell you that adding this step into my life has taken boring everyday showers and made them feel a million times more refreshing. 

I leave my favorite essential oils on the shelf next to the shower and I grab a bottle (or two) depending on my mood to use for the shower that day. My favorites lately have been “joy” or when I’m really extra tropical I like to add a splash of lemongrass to the mix. Just a few shakes into the shower and the aroma rises up to smell and feel pretty wonderful. For evening showers I usually like to add a few splashes of lavender or another calming oil. 

I also like to use this trick with the kid. A few splashes of lavender oil in her bath and we have ourselves an extra relaxing experience. Now, you may not want to do this with really small kiddos— it might just be better to have a diffuser and have it in the air rather than in the water, but for older kids baths or for showers, this works great! 

Another thing that I’ve been using essential oils lately is for my oral health. I have a million dental issues (I’m blaming genetics for that one) and it seems like no matter what I do I’m having a tooth or gum problem 95% of the time. Lately, after any sort of extra crunchy meal, my gums have been a bit irrupted, so I simply take a cotton swab and swab some lavender oil on my gum to calm it down. Adding lemon oil is great for this too! But as always, you absolutely have to be sure that the oils you use are safe for ingestion— not any old essential oil will do the trick— luckily, youngliving is safe for your mouth and gut! 

I’m starting to feel like I’m making myself sound like an old person, talking about my ailments, but this last trick for my old lady pain has been great. I’m one of those people who doesn’t really know when to take a break in life, and I’ve given myself a bit of carpal tunnel this past busy summer season. I use these braces every night to help with the problem (they really have helped!) but the other thing I’ve added to my routine is “pan away” essential oil. I take a bit of coconut oil and a few drops of pan away and I gently massage my wrists before putting on my braces. Lately, I’ve also added lavender oil to the mix. Not only does it have a calming affect on overworked body parts, but it also smells really great to crawl into bed and fall asleep to with my granny arm braces. Maybe you don’t have carpal tunnel (lucky you!) but luckily, this trick works for most sore muscles. I’ve also used it for legs cramps and it is wonderful! 

 If you’re interested in creating a more natural home, there are a lot of easy ways to use them everyday. Figure out what areas you might want help in or how you might want to add to your life (fancy showers) and go from there.

Any suggestions made on this blog are very specific to Young Living essential oils and should not be used with oils from another source. Statements made on this website about Young Living Essential Oils have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products and information are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Anyone suffering from disease or injury should consult with a physician. If you are currently on medication, please DO NOT STOP.

The statements made in this post are the opinions of the author, Oh Dear Drea