Thursday, January 31, 2013

Favorite Things #29

I've been taking lots of baths lately, it's a great way to warm up after a chilly day and I've found that anytime something is bothering me or I'm not having a great day, I crave a bath.  Afterwards, I usually feel ever so much better.  

Unfortunately, I can also have dry, itchy skin and I've read that taking hot showers (and I assume baths?) can aggravate ones skin.  I decided to try Barr- Co. bath salts because I  heard that they were fantastic (and I really like the packaging!) and since it has oatmeal in it I thought it might even help my skin.  I love these bath salts!  They smell clean and fresh and they don't leave my skin feeling dry at all. In fact, my skin feels great after a bath and less itchy!  I also lucked out because a friend recently gave me the bubble bath and it's also heaven in a jar!  I highly recommend!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Identity Crisis

Back when I first had Grace (almost 11 years ago!) and Bryce and I decided that I would stay at home with our children, I went through a bit of an identity crises.  Suddenly, I didn't know how to dress anymore, I didn't know how to keep my house in order, and frankly, I was really overwhelmed with the whole baby thing.  It sort of felt like my old life had ended and I wasn't sure how to go about starting this new, wonderful, but scary, one.

I recently came across a journal where I wrote my goals down for this "new" life and it made me smile. It's a tiny bit a lot embarrassing and totally cheesy but I loved reading it and remembering where I was.  When I read these out loud to Bryce he graciously said that he thought I had accomplished my goals (though no one has ever really called me chic).  I realized that for me it's not so much about accomplishing them as it is the process of figuring out who I am and who I want to be.  At the time, I clearly thought that if I looked put together that might help me feel put together (often very true!).  

One thing is for sure though, having Grace did change my life in the most wonderful way possible.

P.S.  I had a hard time hitting publish on this post.  Isn't it funny that I share so much on this blog but this feels very personal and different!

Monday, January 28, 2013

A Gnome House

Way back in the fall when Al and Marilyn, Bryce's parents, visited they brought a beautiful surprise for Harris to work on.  A gnome house!  As you many recall, Harris has a love for gnomes, but never builds houses for them because everyone knows that they live in trees or under trees (though he did dig a giant hole in the garden this summer with the intent of gnomes moving in).

The gnome house that Al built is perfect in every way.  I believe he hollowed it out himself and then added all the sweet details such as the door, the round window, the chimney and roof.

The little door even has a hinge on it so that it properly opens and closes.

Marilyn brought all sorts of goodies for Harris (and Grace) to add to the house.  The finished product is simply darling and I'm sure any gnome with good taste would certainly move right in.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Date Night with Harris

(all photos were taken on my phone without a flash, so they are pretty poor quality!)

Friday evening, Bryce and I took each of the children out for "date night."  Our kids love going on individual dates with us and we are making an effort to make them happen a little more often.  It seems to me that going on an individual date is a win-win situation for all involved.  We usually switch off every other time so that we get equal time with the children and they with us.

We also try to model what a "date" might look like with the hope that when the time comes both children will be comfortable and know what they can and should expect from their prospective dates!  It sounds kind of silly, but I'm sort of taking the "it's never too early" approach. To that end, Bryce and Harris made a trip to the (grocery) store and picked Grace and I up some flowers. (Flowers aren't an every date occurrence but it's more about the gesture and thoughtfulness.)

Harris and I went out to eat at a restaurant that we don't usually frequent which was a fun change for both of us.  

Another lovely thing about individual dates is the conversations that you might not otherwise have.  It happened to be snowing during our date (we even had a small snowball fight in the parking lot!) and when I asked Harris why he thought the snow was particularly sparkly he said, completely seriously, "cause snow is magic."  That made me happy.

While we were waiting for the check, Harris decided that we should take silly pictures of ourselves.  They certainly weren't the most flattering pictures but we sure did laugh a lot.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Santa's Gifts

I know that we are well past Christmas, but this post is for my friend Ashley who reminded me that I hadn't ever written her favorite post of the year!  I usually post some pictures of what the children received from Santa and I neglected to do that this year.  Once I went back and looked at the photos I think it was because I didn't get very good pictures!

(try to ignore that pile of random stuff in the corner- those were not gifts!)

A few notes on Santa's gifts
* The majority of the children's gifts come from Santa.  We only give them one or two from us.
*Santa doesn't ever wrap the children's gifts.  I don't think it's laziness but rather he just doesn't have time and how would they all fit in his bag?
*There is always Glee gum and a special Christmas orange in the children's stockings.  He's pretty consistent with that.

Also, the story of Harris' wallet is sort of funny.  Last year, he asked for, and received, this very same wallet.  However, much to his dismay it disappeared on Christmas!  We are pretty sure it accidentily got tossed in the garbage.  All year he has waited for the opportunity to ask for another one (because clearly he can't just buy one, this one was from Santa!).  Fortunately, he did get a new one and inside was a Santa bill!  

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Hot Chocolate MIx

The children and I are absolute lovers of a good hot chocolate!  Obviously, hot chocolate with milk is preferred, but I've found that it's not always practical for us.  Sometimes, I just don't want to mess up a pot to heat up the milk or, worse, we are out of milk!  Therefore, for the past 16 years I've tried my fair share of hot chocolate mixes (that I've bought and that I've made) and I think I've finally found our keeper!  In fact, this is the hot chocolate mix that Grace made for her hot chocolate stand and we had lots of requests for the recipe.    I got the original recipe here but I've tweaked it just a teeny bit to our tastes.
Hot Cocoa Mix

2 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1 cup cocoa (I use Pernigotti Cocoa, it was worth ordering, but any Dutch-process would work too)
2 1/2 cups powdered milk
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cornstarch

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix together thoroughly.  
To fix a mug of hot cocoa, simply add a few tablespoons of mix to your mug (it always seems like a lot but you don't want it to be watery) and add hot water.  

P.S.  I recently got a whipped cream maker that we keep in the fridge at all times to add to our cocoa.  We love it!

Monday, January 21, 2013

The African Cemetery

We had a day off today to honor Martin Luther King Jr. and decided to take a little time this morning to finally explore the African American Cemetery in our town.  We must have walked by the sign for this cemetery 100 times but have never walked through.  I really like cemeteries,  I don't usually find them depressing or spooky but rather beautiful and peaceful.

I'm always fascinated by the headstones and the names engraved on them.  It makes me wonder what their lives were like, especially in a time when we had specific cemeteries to bury African Americans in.  Many of the headstones we saw today were so worn by the weather that they were barely decipherable.  I was also struck at how young many of those that were buried there were.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Favorite Things #28

I have a love for postage stamps. Particularly, ones that match a theme for an event or party that I'm hosting.  So maybe it's not a love for postage stamps as much as it is a love for special details?

It all started years ago when we had a ballet birthday party for Grace, and I decided that I must have ballerina postage stamps for her invitations.  There were not any current ones, so I ended up driving into downtown Atlanta to a random business that sold old postage stamps!  When we moved here, I did the same thing in order to pick up "year of the monkey" stamps for Harris' first birthday party which was a monkey theme!  I almost always make an effort to find a special stamp when I'm sending out invitations and I simply love the stamps I found for my dinner invitation.  I even bought lots of extra sheets to have for future use!

What I love about these stamps is that not only are they lovely but they share the incredible effort of  Lady Bird Johnson to "keep the beauty of the landscape as we remember it in our youth.. and to leave this splendor for our grandchildren."  I'm astonished at how ahead of her time she was as she pushed for conservation and beautification of our landscape.  I adore the important message that her campaign sent to the masses; that beauty is important and that we must work hard to preserve and create that beauty around us.  Isn't that the truth?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Favorite Things 40th Birthday Party

My 40th birthday dinner was exactly what I had envisioned, and I had such a wonderful time with my girlfriends!

The theme of the party (you know I love themes!) was "favorite things" and each guest was asked to bring 12 of a favorite item, $5 and under, to share with everyone.  It was so fun because everyone got to go home with 12 new favorite things!  Since pink is a favorite color we had a few pink details alongside brown kraft paper (brown paper packages tied up with string!).

Bryce rented a van and was our chauffeur for the night!  Bryce and Kathleen decorated the van (more pink!) and it was so fun to ride together and begin celebrating during the ride!

For the birthday cake, I knew that I wanted a peony on top since it is one of my favorite things, but it was next to impossible to find a peony this time of year.  At the last minute I contacted Diane of DK designs to see if she had an extra clay peony.  She generously offered to make me one and save the day!  I'm so very happy that I went this route because now I have the peony to remind me of how fabulous it was to turn 40!

The restaurant where we had dinner is an old inn and we were able to start with appetizers and drinks in a cozy little room before moving in to a private dining room for dinner.

After dinner, we exchanged our favorite things and had cake!  While we were eating dinner, Bryce set up the table with our favorite things and the birthday cake.  For my favorite thing, I brought everyone my very favorite cupcakes from a local bakery.  Also, I brought brown paper bags, tied up in ribbon, for everyone to put their new favorite things in to take home.  I thought this would make it easier to carry everything.

Here's a shot of all of the favorite things: flowers, a music cd, a scrubbie, coffee gift cards, hyacinth bulbs in teacups, a movie, glitter mascara, blistex, cupcakes, handwash, body wash, chocolate and peanut butter bites, a bookmark, sweet smelling soap and Rosebud lip salve.

I would also like to thank Bryce for a wonderful evening.  He certainly took care of us: renting the van and then driving the van in dense fog, taking pictures, setting up the table, picking a wine just based on its name and generally just being a great husband.  I so appreciate him and he is by far my favorite thing!

(the only picture we got and not a good one at that!)

Monday, January 14, 2013

My Favorite Dress

On Saturday, I celebrated my 40th birthday with some of my favorite people!  I haven't had a moment to go through the pictures yet to post about the party, but I thought I would share the dress I wore.  I knew that I wanted to wear a dress that I loved and as soon as I saw this dress on Etsy I knew it was the one!  I love pink, I love bows, I love vintage and I love the fact that it was a winter appropriate dress with sleeves and made of black velvet!

I even wore a small crinoline underneath!

We did have a funny moment with the dress that speaks to the perils of wearing vintage: right before we were about to leave, I did a quick check in the mirror and was horrified to notice two tears in the seam of the sleeve!  Fortunately, my mom was here and quickly sewed them up.  Towards the end of the party, I also noticed a tear in the other sleeve!  I guess a 50-60 year old dress might need some strengthening of the seams!

Friday, January 11, 2013

40 and A Little Gathering

Yesterday, I turned 40!  I had a great day that included family, friends and champagne!  What more can a girl ask for?  On Saturday, I'm having a little favorite things dinner party to celebrate with a few of my favorite people.  Even though it's a small event, I wanted to make it special by sending out invitations.  I was thrilled that a local stationary shop was able to help me make a custom invitation that I just love.  I went with pink (a favorite color) invitations and kraft paper (brown paper packages tied up with string!) envelopes.  My favorite detail is the little bow at the bottom of the invitation and on the back of the envelope with the return address.  I'm so excited to spend the evening with girlfriends!

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