a merry little christmas 2015

This year's loot
That black & white polka dot paper? Yeah, I screenprinted that. *flexes giant muscles*
Pretty Livvy
My niece Catherine's first year as official present distributor
Tommy's mom is way more excited than Tommy is about his present
Fact: Doodles love Christmas
Ellie got a new toy for Christmas, which will hopefully replace the slippers she usually steals carries around the house
My first year not waking up early enough to look presentable = the only photo you get of me
We realized halfway through the morning that Meredith had the whole couch all to herself, covered in presents.
A man & his Han Solo socks
There are 13 photos in this post, which are the 13 photos that we took via camera on our trip back to Southern VA for Christmas. This is in addition to the solid 4 non-selfie photos that I took on my phone. I spent most of our Christmas break with my phone left in my purse. The camera off. The out-of-office email response up. 

& it was great.

2015 was so. much. I'm only really able to see that right in the moment -- today, the last day of the year. Before I started to write this post, I went back in my previous Christmas Day posts just to revisit formatting, etc., & was instead left in tears when greeted by images of my grandparents enjoying Christmas with us the past two years. It was our first year without grandpa drinking his multiple cups of coffee & observing the Christmas morning shenanigans from a safe distance with a smile on his face. My grandmother's health is touch & go, & she spent this year unable to leave the rehab facility that she was temporarily moved to after a scary week of tests & ER visits. It's hard. It's sad.

So, we spent this Christmas being present. Soaking up moments, staying up WAY too late every night, holding onto babies & visiting my grandma every chance we got. We were missing grandpa but overjoyed to be joined by 3 month old Olivia. Happy to have a chance to catch up & laugh with Jared's parents & the siblings that made it in town for Christmas. 

Other honorable mentions: listening to the Hamilton soundtrack nonstop (OBSESSED) & seeing Star Wars for the 2nd time in Imax 3D. 

I have to get ready for work, but just wanted to pop in to put these up while it's still 2015. Happy New Years Eve to you all! I'll be back!


may your days be merry & bright

Bright Bundle design by Tiny Prints

2 - times I had to lint roll those hunter green pants before our shoot
6 - photos of 120 that were acceptable options for our Christmas cards
3 - years in a row that Amelia has taken our Christmas photos
7 - tourists that we had to strategically shoot around to take the winning photo
1 - pair of ear muffs lost in the Uber on the way to the Jefferson Memorial
3 - top contenders from Tiny Prints amazing holiday card selections before agreeing on this design
37 - degrees when we took these
2 - more sleeps until the Star Wars movie premiere

365 - Days that were merry & bright with this man at my side.

We are so happy to be celebrating another beautiful Christmas season in this city, & since we cheated with our Paris photos from last year (how could you not?), we wanted to do our Christmas card photos at one of the most iconic and my personal favorite national sites, the Jefferson Memorial. A huge thank you to Tiny Prints for these beautiful cards & perfect design!

The Cards of Christmas Past:


a very bethune christmas mix | 2015

It took about an hour of enduring Spotify's ads the day after Thanksgiving before I got on my phone & paid, once again, for a month of their premium access. HERE, CHRISTMAS, JUST TAKE ALL OF MY MONEY. (Helpful hint: If you've never tried their Premium accounts, you can get three months for $.99 by clicking here. I'm not being paid to tell you that, I'm just a very seriously helpful person.)

ANYWHO. The Bethune Christmas Playlist of 2015 has arrived in all of its glory & GUYS. It's a good one. 2 hours & 35 minutes of a good one, in fact. Hopefully there's still some good songs left for next year, ha! Keep an ear out for some undercover Nickel Creek, a healthy amount of Pentatonix & NSYNC, & a sneak attack Ying Yang Twins that we deliberated very hard over before deciding that yes, it should make it through to the final round. (If Simon Cowell Complex is a thing, Jared & Kelsey Bethune have it once a year in December, for sure.) 

In other news, our Christmas tree is located no more that 4 in. from my desk & I could only be happier if we finally had a dog in our apartment this year. Baby steps. But also, get back to me when there's actually a dog in our apartment & literally no room to move.


& then it was November


It's been awhile. Again. I don't know who is still popping by here since I haven't 1) been posting or 2) been sharing any semblance of new posts on the social mediaz, but hullo to whoever reads this. I found myself with a couple extra minutes this morning & freshly poured 2nd cup of coffee, so I figured I could share some updates on our little Tree.

Wedding season is over! That's right, Amelia & I made it through Tart's first full event season at the end of October, & have been using November to organize 6 months of event mess, look our husbands in the face for longer than 10 minutes, see some family, & work on our upcoming Holiday Wrap Bash (that you're all in invited to)... because, you know, why relax when you can plan another party? We're addicted, apparently. Our first season was honestly incredible. We learned so SO much & made amazing memories with once-clients that are now-friends. The hustle continues & our 2016 (& even 2017!) clients are in full swing, but we've definitely had some time to just be still. Find rest. Catch up on Once Upon a Time. The important things in life.

5 year anniversary! Okay, I'm very upset that I never showed up on here to write a 5 year anniversary post, so I added a retrospective post to my to-do list two minutes ago. We had such a lovely anniversary weekend, thanks to miraculously not having any weddings booked for Tart that weekend. We had toyed around with taking a big vacation, which turned into a little cabin in the woods vacation, which (after 2 straight months of non-stop travel for both of us) turned into mini daytrips that didn't require any suitcases packed or planning or anything. Just face-staring, conversation-having & hand-holding with a side of adventuring. IT. WAS. GREAT. We got to explore Philadelphia, enjoy a DC restaurant we'd been wanting to try, & go on a apple-picking/wine tasting excursion in the mountains of Northwestern VA. Still crossing our fingers for that big vacation in the upcoming months, but our actual anniversary weekend was everything we needed it to be.

New job! I started a new part-time job this past week that is just the beginning of simplifying this slightly nonstop life I've developed. I've eliminated an hour & a half of straight up commuting from my day by taking this job that is a 6 minute walk from our apartment, which is essentially just buying back time to work on Tart things & other ventures. It's a great fit & a good pace, so now I just have to get through the miserable part of beginning a new job where you don't know anything, are trying to learn everything, & mostly just look like an idiot all the time. MY FAVORITE.

Other life things! It came as no surprise but was still accompanied by sheer joy that my younger sister Meredith got engaged in September to her longtime beau, Brandon. Having the time of my life designing their wedding at the DREAMIEST venue for next May. My older sister had her newest baby at the end of September, so most of my every day is spent plotting the next time that I will see her babes. I celebrated my 27th birthday (ughhhh) in mid-October, over a wedding weekend that turned into a big surprise that Amelia & Jared plotted for me, which included my parents, my curly haired sister & my nearly 3-year-old LIGHT OF MY LIFE niece showing up in Richmond for my birthday dinner. My dear friends Chelsea & Andrew tied the knot at the beginning of this month & we were able to make the quick trip to Norfolk to watch them say I do. We've had visitors galore, with some of my family up here last weekend & Jared's parents arriving this weekend. Holiday travel plans are in full swing & we've only succumbed to listening to Christmas music three times. I think. We also bought a coffee table. Which may not seem like a big life thing, but when you're living life one apartment at a time & usually too scared to buy any extra furniture because "we'll be moving soon," this was a prettttty big commitment. Anyways, we think it's beautiful. Everyone else thinks it's a glass coffee table that we'll rethink once we have a baby. They're probably right.

All about that balance! & so begins the part of the year where I try to start balancing my life & advance towards feeling accomplished with something/anything at the end of the day. With my significantly shorter commute, I'm hoping to actually find & stick to a workout regiment. Not to sound dramatic, but I'm 27 now & it's about time to commit to something as adult as working out. Even though I hate exercise. Like so much. But I also love Shake Shack. Like SO much. I'd like to start cooking more, writing more, Facetiming with far away family & friends more, reading more, laundry-ing more. Too often I find myself emailing in a dead silent family room, because even music feels chaotic when combined with all the things running through my mind.

The word this year for both Tart & my personal life has been: Intentional. It's a weighty word, & a constant goal. It's easy to just put pretty things out there in the world. It's easy to keep a blog simply because I've had some sort of journal since I was 8. But from printing photos to actually getting out of bed when my alarm goes off to breathing life back into a seemingly dead blog, I want to be intentional. With my time, my resources, my friends, our plans for the future.

So yes, read between the lines. I have something up my sleeve for this blog. I'll be keeping you posted on my intentional pursuit.



& then it was September.

Ugh, sooooooooooo many things are happening. Wedding season is about to pick up, Tart is doing ALL the things (& killin' it, might I add), I'm traveling all over Virginia constantly, Jared's being sent all over North America for work, my part time job is as busy as ever, my younger sister is getting married (!!!), & I leave for NYFW on Sunday.

We're just slightly busy these days. To put it in perspective, I still haven't finished editing photos from our trip to Europe TEN MONTHS AGO. Not okay!

I'm trying to recalibrate this blog. Something isn't working. Part of it is that I've always required a creative outlet since college to act as retreat from school then day job then starting-a-small-business. This creative void is now filled by Tart. Beyond filled. Tart causes my creativity cup to overfloweth! & truthfully, I don't even have the time to put my all into Tart, leaving this little blog behind... somewhere... back there... in the dust.

But I'm somehow still unwilling to wave the white flag.

So, I'm going to go to NYC for fashion week & meet blogger friends that I've dreamed about meeting for years, & see all the pretty clothes, & hopefully find some inspiration. I'm done making promises, because this is my corner of the internet, & I make the rules. #girlboss


this month - august

MAKING - Facetime calls with my 2 yr old niece like it's my job.
CRAVING - peaches. all the time.
PLAYING - a game called rearranging-the-whole-apartment-get-excited-jared
LISTENING TO - the Apple music playlists with current music, in an attempt to stay relevant. *sigh*
READING - The Nightingale
WEARING - as much of Madewell's new Fall collection as possible, & yes, that includes overalls.
LEARNING - to use this daily planner that I fully expect to change my life
GOING TO - the beach with our Coulomb besties later in the month!
WORKING ON - portion control *insert sideeye emoji*
OBSESSED WITH - this eyebrow mascara
PLANNING - in advance for allll the work travel weekends this fall. Like, 5 in a row.
EXCITED FOR - even the slightest of breeze's now that we've survived July's humidity.
HOPING - my new philosophy on my relationship with food sticks.
STARTING - to get the hang of Snapchat... I think. (follow me! kelseybethune)
FINISHING - Criminal Minds. Because I'm the picture in the dictionary when you look up "binge-watching."

What are you up to this month?


Hi blog.

It's almost comical that right about the time that Refinery29 & Lauren Conrad share my DIY hair post & the blog traffic came a-pourin' in, I disappeared off the blog grid.

My grandfather passed away two Fridays ago. A stroke lead to a fall on 4th of July weekend, & we spent nearly all of that weekend at his side, holding his hand & playing his favorite Andrew Lloyd Webber tunes on whoever's iPhone had the most battery left. Jared & I were able to drop everything to spend time with him & my family, having taken time off to spend in Richmond for Amelia's birthday on a weekend that would have otherwise left us both working all day long. We returned to DC on Monday & got the call that Grandpa had gone Home the following weekend. I was able to set off nearly immediately for Virginia to be with my family & prepare to make the road trip back to Missouri for his funeral with the rest of my mom's family.

Over a full three weeks of heartache & goodbyes & travel, it never felt right to stop & write even a This Month post. Mourning always manifests itself in such odd ways, made odder by the fact that I simply haven't experienced the loss of a family member prior to Grandpa McLean. How amazing is that? To have experienced 26 beautiful years with all four of my grandparents - What a blessing! Saying goodbye to my grandpa has taken its form in doing the things he loved... Watching movies with the ones you love most, learning everything there is to know in your own city, appreciating a song you've heard a million times. His life was one of knowledge & acknowledging the glory in how the tiniest of creations works, & I love that legacy.

Needless to say, it's been a heavy month.

I do have photos to share, because you can't spend 16 hours in the car with a 2-year-old niece or 48 hours with your cousins & beautiful grandma without bottling up some sweet moments in photo form. But not today. Today I just wanted to say hi, & that I'm not giving up on this little blog, & that time away from the computer screen is sometimes exactly what your heart needs.


eat - grilled pizzas

18 days ago (AKA the last time I showed my face around these parts), I noted that I was craving my dad's grilled pizza. It's true. I'm pretty much in a constant state of craving pizza, but dad's pizza is top notch. Dad's grilled pizza? It is actually the creme de la creme.

(Side note: My mom's herb garden is amazing & how did I miss that gene AND the one that helps me speak French fluently?)

Grilled Pizza Recipe + Sitting In Our Tree

You may remember this post, in which we discussed that while everyone else spent their Saturday mornings eating pancakes, we were given the gift of dad's crepes to wake up to every weekend. Well, Saturday morning crepes were merely the dessert to Friday night pizza, a tradition that might seem common, but no one takes it as seriously as Essmanns. Our pizza nights are renowned amongst friends across at least four states.

Grilled Pizza Recipe+Sitting In Our Tree

We've gone through many phases of Friday night pizza. There was the the fluffy crust preference of the mid-90s, the "new bread maker WHOO!" phase of the late 90's, the let's-just-order-it-because-there-are-20-preteens-over-here phase of the early-2000s, & the current phase of gourmet... & I mean gourmet pizza that has taken over the last 8 years or so.

Grilled Pizza Recipe + Sitting In Our Tree

Somewhere in there was a grilled pizza phase. 
It was glorious, & it sort of ruined me for any other pizza.
Not to say I won't eat other pizza. Please.

Grilled Pizza Recipe + Sitting In Our Tree

AT ANY RATE. I'm here today because I have a present for you. In the spirit of Father's Day, Papa Essmann has been so kind to share his amazing pizza dough recipe, along with some tips he's gathered along the way of his 20+ year long pizza journey. He's so nice. Prepare to be educated.

Grilled Pizza Recipe + Sitting In Our Tree

Pizza Dough Recipe
2 teaspoons bread yeast
1 teaspoon honey
5 Cups bread flour (King Arthur or Gold Medal brand are recommended for great protein level)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 eggs
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Molasses
1/2 cup filtered water
1-12oz.bottle unfiltered wheat beer

  • Add 2 teaspoons yeast and 1 teaspoon honey to 1/2 cup water at about 100 degrees (this temperature does not feel warm). Stir and allow to sit for a few minutes.
  • Mix 5 cups flour, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 2 eggs, 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and 1 Tablespoon molasses in a large mixing bowl. Stir to mix well. Add the yeast mixture, 1 bottle of wheat beer, and remaining 2/4 cup water to flour mixture. Stir with a large spoon until clumped together. Spoon out onto a floured surface and knead well, for 3 to five minutes until the dough is smooth. If the dough is sticky, knead in additional flour 1/4 cup at a time. If it is dry, add water 1/4 cup at a time. The finished door should be only slightly tacky, and should rebound slightly when pressed with finger.
  • Put 2 -3 Tablespoons olive oil into the bottom of a clean, large bowl (at least twice the size of the dough ball), and roll the dough in the oil until thoroughly covered. Cover the dough bowl with a damp towel or plastic wrap. Allow to rise in a warm (80 degree) location until double in size.
  • When dough ball is twice its original size (about an hour), drop it out onto a floured surface. Cut into desired number of pieces (This will make four 14 inch pizzas, or eight smaller, thin pizzas. You will determine the size and thickness when it is rolled out). Roll each piece into a ball by stretching pulling the piece from the top with the heel of both hands and pushing to the underside with your fingers. Place each ball on a floured surface and allow to rise for 10 minutes or longer. (You may want to cover with plastic wrap if allowed to sit for longer than 10 minutes).
  • When ready to make pizzas, flour a large surface and roll out with a rolling pin. Be patient, because the dough will continually shrink back up at first, as you try to roll it out. When at the desired size and thickness, Lift and place on lightly oiled pizza pans or cookie sheets. If cooking on a grill, put pizza on a floured and corn meal covered peel. Add toppings as desired - olive oil, mozzarella, tomato sauce (Prego, etc., or homemade), and your choice of meats or vegetables. Bake in 450 degree oven for about 10 minutes. Keep an eye on pizza for doneness of crust and cheese. I usually spin the pizza around a few times while in the oven to ensure even baking, and I like to slide the pizza off the pan, directly onto the oven rack, for the last several minutes of cooking, for a crisper crust.

Some explanations from Papa Essmann:
"The basic pizza recipe is just flour, salt, olive oil, yeast and water. This makes a fine crust, and you can leave out the honey, eggs and molasses, and substitute water for the beer if you like. The honey gets the fermentation process going in the yeast. The eggs make the crust chewier. The molasses is a trick we got from one of our favorite pizza restaurants, and it adds a hearty flavor to the crust that we like. Beer adds flavor of complex yeast formation that you don't get with a fast (1 to 2 hour) rise. A longer rising time will allow the dough to develop the 2nd and 3rd generation yeast fermentation that will give the dough the same deep flavor, but I don't usually make my dough the night before we make pizza (most pizza joints do!). If you want to try the longer rising time, cut the yeast to 1/2 teaspoon. Even with this amount of yeast, you may need to refrigerate the dough, or keep it in a cool location, to get the desired 18 to 24 hours rise time that you need to develop the flavor."

Grilling tips:
"To cook on a grill, I highly recommend using ceramic tiles instead of cooking directly on the grate. Buy some unfinished ceramic tiles at the hardware store, wash them off and place them on your grill to provide an adequately sized cooking surface (or buy a pizza stone, which will get black on the bottom and eventually crack. The 80 cent tiles are a better choice. When they crack, throw them away.) Turn the burners to their highest setting, or stoke a bunch of coals, add some soaked woodchips wrapped in aluminum foil with slits cut in the top, let the grill get screaming hot with the lid down, and slide the pizza directly onto the tiles. Minimize the time the grill is open to retain as much meat as possible. Spin pizza frequently. Pizza is done in 4 to 5 minutes."


this month - june

^^ finally got a picture where the month isn't centered directly in the middle of my forehead ^^

MAKING - things to fill our blank walls
CRAVING - dad's grilled pizzas
PLAYING - catch up on aaaaall the things after an insane May
LISTENING TO - Stuff They Don't Want You To Know, a very borderline boring podcast about conspiracies
READING - emails. Like... let's not kid ourselves.
WEARING - earrings, but only because Jared got me moon phase earrings for our 9 year dating anniversary.
LEARNING - how to style my hair, made more interesting by the fact that I left my straightener in Richmond this past weekend.
GOING TO - explore more corners of DC with my love in this slightly quieter month
WORKING ON - bettering my day-to-day schedule. It'd be so lovely to have an update on that for you come July.
OBSESSED WITH - Grapefruit juice & the Into The Woods soundtrack
PLANNING - more details for our grand 5 year anniversary adventure
EXCITED FOR - a mini trip home for golden doodles, toddlers & a swimming pool
HOPING - for more rainy days, which are goooood for my soul
STARTING - to see some new growth on the plants I somehow accumulated this spring #oops
FINISHING - my third Whole30, if I can say no to the gelato in our freezer for 20 more days

What are you up to this month?


nine years

June 2007, when puka shells were barely still a thing

May 27th, 2006.

Nine years ago, & 4 days after I was hoping he would (May 23rd is my favorite day of the year), an 18-year-old Jared took a 17-year-old me on a walk around my parents' neighborhood. We sat in a garden on the golf course. He said, "Kelsey Leigh Essmann, would you be my girlfriend?" & I said, "Of course."

We were babies. The older we get, the more we understand just how young we were. But I can still feel the knowledge I had in my heart & in my gut. That this was it. This was my big love. He was more than I could ever dream up. This was only going to get better.

Nine whole years have flown by. I've been thinking on this for the past couple of weeks & I don't know how to put this thought into words without sounding cheesy or insincere. But here it is: Every day is still a dream. My love for this man has not faltered, faded or dimmed. Love is so big. So overwhelming. It is seriously such a gift.

My heart booms for you, Jared Stedman Bethune. I love you, My Someone.



Well, hello.

Just another "checking in" post as yet another month has nearly come & gone with me making all of two grand appearances on my own blog.

  • I'm sitting in the coffee shop down the street currently because our building's water has been shut off for the second time this week, in an effort for plumbers to correct the issues that our fellow tenants have quite literally flushed down the toilet. Cue questioning apartment living that inevitably leads to adding up how much money we're wasting on rent & the panic attack that ensues.
  • But the great news is that I really love the coffee shop down the street.
  • Our balcony got a surprise facelift last week & it has inspired us to invest a little more in that space. You know, since our apartment is teeny & we'll take all the extra living space we can get. 
  • Important to note that we have officially decided to stick it out in this apartment for one more year - A surprising twist beings that I had an active countdown to August 2015 when we first moved in. We've worked hard to make that little place home, & also have high hopes of being able to afford a better place in August 2016... Something we can't quite work into the budget right now. If we moved this year, we'd be sacrificing location (location location) for a little less rent & more than likely, even less space. To which we say, "Thanks but no thanks."
  • I'm very happy to report that spring in DC has indeed restored my soul, as predicted here. We have fallen deeper & deeper in love with this city as the weather has grown warmer.
  • Things with Tart have remained BUSY. Hence my lack of social presence on the interwebz. Things slow down just a little bit over the summer, & I have a really exciting to-do list that consists of items like: Organize emails, file receipts, track mileage.
  • Jared was sent to Toronto for work, where he fell a little bit in love with Canadians & brought me back ROSE FLAVORED GIN & a Roots sweatshirt. I'm pretty sure this is some form of pacification since I haven't been able to tag along on any of his work adventures, but as long as there's rose flavored anything involved, I'm happy.
  • OH! & I cut my hair!
If I have anything else to say, it didn't fly from my fingertips fast enough, as I must depart for el part-time job-oh. Womp. #chaptersoflife


iphone does: cardinals nation

A beautiful day for baseball
Cherry blossoms + dad being reprimanded by George Washington for rooting for the rival team
Game #1 aka my turn to wear our (yes, OUR) new Cardinals shirt
Mama & Papa E!
WHEN IN ROME! + Game #1's dugout seats
Sweet Grandma - I hope to age as beautifully as she has
They may actually be the game's biggest fans
The man who started a Redbird legacy
My man Yadi on the right!
As dad put it, you can take the usher out of the ballpark, but you can't take the usher out of the man
I mean, those are cute. And conveniently, delicious.
Pictures like this make me wonder if I'm nearing my quota of how many selfies I can impose on him
Post game brewery madness at Bluejacket

Because I am approximately 6 months behind in blogging about life events, these are from ohhhhh you knowwww, last MONTH when my parents & grandparents came up to DC to join us for the Cardinals vs. Nationals game. Both of my parents hail from St. Louis, so I was born into Cardinals fandom. Jared is a more recent convert, having no opinions on baseball prior to dating me, & eventually becoming -- Dare I say it? -- a bigger baseball fan than I am. We made it to two of the three games, & had equal amounts of fun with the ENORMOUS Cardinals fan base that we were surrounded by at both games. (& really, we like to have local spirit, but only when the Cardinals aren't the opponents. Go Nats.)

It was especially an honor to have both of my grandparents at the game. My grandfather has worked at the Cardinals' Busch Stadium since he retired over 20 years ago, ushering every home game ever, I'm pretty sure. My grandma joined him at the stadium for the past few years, & together, they are surely the biggest Cardinals fans I've ever met. They recently moved out to Virginia from St. Louis & are experiencing their first baseball season away from the ballpark, so it was very important to all of us that we got them to their team while our redbirds were nearby. It was a truly memorable afternoon, enjoying the game with them from the stands.


this month - may

MAKING - more frequent trips to the weekly farmer's market
CRAVING - a day slathered in sunscreen, on the water somewhere
PLAYING - house, as the spring rearranging bug has bit
LISTENING TO - the new Alabama Shakes album, forever and ever amen
READING - reviews on outdoor partitions, in our continued attempt to home-ify our giant balcony
WATCHING - puppy videos on youtube, pretty much every day at this point
WEARING - dresses! & sandals that show my toes!
LEARNING - that you don't walk to work in the same outfit you're going to wear to work when it's over 70 degrees outside
GOING TO - Richmond via train more often & learning to love it. Learning.
WORKING ON - a non-wedding event for the first time & maybe having too much fun with it
OBSESSED WITH - Shiner's Ruby Redbird being back in the grocery store for the warm weather
PLANNING - for the summer months, already
EXCITED FOR - a haircut! 
HOPING - my baby cilantro plant survives
STARTING - to see more sunsets, even on the days I work at my part time job, as the days get longer
FINISHING - off old candles to make way for a new army of Anthro candles

What are you up to this month?


springtime in dc

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some springtime prettiness in our nation's wonderful capital.