February 11, 2013 § 1 Comment
I get my inspiration from lots of different sources: friends, magazines, craft stores, Pinterest and, yes definitely, my children. Last year, we had a blast making our awesome owl valentines to exchange with friends and at school, but this year I was looking for a new project. I asked Sophie and – out of the blue – she said, “I want to make game spinners.” Where did that come from?
It was the spark I needed to get my creative juices flowing. I picked up a pack of 6×6 chipboard squares and some valentine scrapbook papers. We cut the arrows out of chipboard, covered them with Washi tape, and used a felt sticker heart for the tips. My girlie had fun assembling them and especially stamping on the cute messages. We taped a pixie stick to the back along with our to/from because according to Soph: “the kids really care most about the candy.” That may be true, but I like to think that the smiles on their faces might be just a little bit bigger when they see these super cool valentines. That makes me happy!
February 9, 2013 § Leave a comment
Sophie and I have had fun today assembling these sweet little Valentine’s Day treat bags for her friends. Inspired by a gift from my friend Stephanie and several Pinterest pics, I’ve been incorporating wax paper treat bags into my recent craft projects. There are so many of these bags on the market right now. I got mine at my local Paper Source store, and you can find a ton of really pretty ones on The Sugar Diva’s website. For Bella’s birthday craft party and for this project, I sewed the bags shut as an added touch. Some may think I’m crazy, but I think going the extra mile makes all the difference. Love is in the details!
December 16, 2012 § Leave a comment
We just went to an awesome baking party yesterday, and I was reminded of Bella’s 6th birthday. This was one of my favorite parties! Fun party planning for me always begins with a great idea for the invitation and the party favors, and for this one the recipe card invites and the homemade aprons were so much fun to make. I loved the retro papers and fabrics I used – I even found a matching dress for my birthday girl to wear. I’m not great with patterns but pretty handy with the sewing machine, and these aprons weren’t too hard to cut and patch together without a pattern. The guests were set up around the kitchen island and spent the evening making their own pizzas and rolling and decorating sugar cookies. Most children love to help in the kitchen and, just like at the party yesterday, the adults were impressed with just how quiet it got as the little one focused in on their grown-up baking. It was an adorable party, and the memories are unforgettable.
November 20, 2012 § 2 Comments
“Who does not thank for little will not thank for much.” – Estonian Proverb
With my wonderful mother-in-law and both girls in tow, I braved the grocery store this afternoon for “the big shop” – the annual gathering of all my essential items for the perfect Thanksgiving meal. I love this holiday: time spent relaxing with treasured family and friends, the football games, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and, of course, THE FOOD. I’ve got our family’s perfect southern meal down to a science, with a number of recipes that are must-haves – I’m not even sure my brother would show up without my Grammy’s corn bread stuffing or our dad’s green beans (which, like all his great recipes, includes a can of beer). Even my addition of marbled mashed potatoes in recent years has quickly become a staple. I’m sure most people are like me and have tons of traditional family recipes they can’t live without but, if you find yourself searching for something new, look no further. These favorites of mine cannot be beat and are another little thing in my life that I’m so thankful for!
Sweet Cornbread Stuffing
4 boxes of cornbread mix, prepared and cubed (MUST be Jiffy brand)
3/4 cup butter
2-3 cups chopped celery (including leaves)
1 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
salt and pepper to taste
poultry seasoning to taste
dark meat turkey and broth
Make cornbread ahead of time and cut into cubes. (I make it the night before and let it sit out overnight to dry out.) Heat butter on the stove. Add celery, onion, salt and pepper to taste and cook until softened. Stir in the cubed cornbread and add poultry seasoning and more salt and pepper to taste. In true southern-girl style, I boil up some turkey parts (neck, thighs, etc.) with butter and lots of salt and pepper the night before and add a bit of this along with some of the turkey broth to moisten. I save the rest for the gravy the next day. In our family, we always cook our stuffing in the bird, but this still tastes great baked in the oven on 350 degrees for 30 minutes in a casserole dish.
Dad’s Green Beans
fresh green beans, ends broken off (as many as will fill a large stockpot)
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
pepper to taste
1 medium onion, diced
1 thick slice ham steak cut into pieces
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 can beer (I sometimes use wine)
2 tablespoons butter
Combine all ingredients in pot with a few inches of liquid in the bottom. Cook on low heat covered for at least 4-5 hours. Let it cook down slowly overtime – beans will reduce by at least half. Stir carefully to not break up the beans too much. Lid can be removed toward the end to boil off excess liquid. Additional salt and pepper can be added to taste.
Marbled Potatoes (from “True Grits” by the Junior League of Atlanta)
1 pound red potatoes (I substitute russet potatoes)
1 pound sweet potatoes (I use canned)
2 large scallions, chopped
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup whipping cream, whipped
nutmeg to taste
1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper (may want more)
1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
Cook the regular and sweet potatoes separately and mash in separate bowls (no need to cook canned sweet potatoes). Saute the scallions in 1/4 cup butter in a skillet until tender. Stir half the scallions into each bowl of potatoes. Whisk the sour cream with the whipped cream in a bowl. Fold half gently into each bowl of potatoes. Add half the nutmeg, salt and pepper to each bowl. Layer the potatoes 1/2 at a time in a greased 1-quart dish. Swirl with a knife to marbleize. Sprinkle with a mixture of the bread crumbs, melted butter and parsley. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until the topping is golden brown.
November 12, 2012 § 2 Comments
Sophie had the day off today to mark Veteran’s Day. We went to lunch with my friend Stacy and her girls, and then we spent a little time getting lost in Ben Franklin Crafts – fun! I wanted to make it Sophie’s day – our special time together – so this afternoon, we made a new bulletin board from her room with some pretty aqua chevron fabric I picked up. I am in love with chevron stripes and was excited to add some to Soph’s room. It is easy to make a custom bulletin board of any size using fabric, a staple gun and an art canvas. We took a huge canvas we already had, covered it with the fabric, wrapping it tightly as we stapled it along the back side. For this board, I wanted a clean and simple look so I trimmed it out using decorative silver nails along the edges. Sophie is so happy with her new board and is already happily pinning up her treasures.
There are so many easy-to-make and lovely bulletin board ideas online. I’ve added a few to my Pinterest page in case anyone out there needs some inspiration. Craft on!
October 28, 2012 § 5 Comments
I love having good friends in my life who aren’t afraid to give me a little kick every now and then. My friend Stephanie had been telling me about these delicious breakfast muffins she’d found on Pinterest – so easy to make and her family was loving them. I gave her a little yeah yeah and added it to my to-do list of future ideas. Friend that she is – who loves my family and knew that we could not go another day without this tasty breakfast – decided to remind me with an insanely early morning text (hey, who doesn’t love being awakened by the ding ding from their iPhone at 6:47 a.m.!?!). How could I not be compelled to act? My family’s happiness was on the line. So I took the hint, dragged myself out of bed, and made these quick and easy little breakfast muffins. And you know what? She was right of course – she knows us so well. Drew and the girls went crazy over them, and I got to feel like the best mom ever for the rest of the day. Thank you friend for always looking out for me, and here’s the blog post you were expecting:
(originally from Martha Stewart)
In a well-buttered muffin pan, layer white bread (cut into circles or with the crusts cut off), grated cheddar cheese, cooked bacon, and one cracked egg. Salt and pepper to taste and bake at 350 degrees until egg is cooked. Variations can include other breakfast meat, cheeses or a scrambled egg, which my girls prefer. Delish!
October 22, 2012 § Leave a comment
Well Halloween is almost here, and the annual ghosties have appeared on our front porch. I have made these clever squash ghosts with my girls every year since they were little using white paint and Sharpies. We look forward to it and have fun picking the sizes and shapes of our squash (the largest for Mom, middle for Bella, and smallest for Sophie) and deciding on the faces we’ll draw. It’s our favorite Halloween crafting tradition. Boo!
October 16, 2012 § 4 Comments
I am trying out some new Halloween projects this year, and here’s one of them. Such an easy craft, I spray painted a pumpkin with chalkboard paint, embellished with black ribbon and a spooky bird, and wrote my message with a chalkboard pen. This cool countdown-to-Halloween pumpkin is going to look perfect on my front porch!
August 22, 2012 § 2 Comments
I want to hold onto my girls’ childhoods as long as possible, but I know it’s important to embrace each milestone as it comes. We are hitting a big one this week as Bella starts Middle School. I can’t believe that my baby – who it seems just yesterday eagerly started preschool – is now eagerly anticipating this next phase. It’s a time of change for her as Bella also got her first pair of glasses this summer. I hate to see the baby go, but it’s so cool to see the big girl emerge. Time flies (something people always told me when the girls were little, but now I finally realize is absolutely true), and I want to savor each moment.
Bella is excited by the big new world she is experiencing, and she is handling both the glasses and the start of middle school with her own signature grace and style. I feel lucky just to be here, to take it all in, as my precious girls grow and find their path in this life. Today, I paused to document the moment with the girlies (now 5th and 3rd graders) styled up in some of our fall favorites from Crewcuts. Looking at these pictures, I can’t believe how big the girls look and how much of their sweet baby faces are still there smiling back at me. This amazing new chapter in our lives is definitely worth capturing.
July 30, 2012 § 1 Comment
I would be remiss to talk about my love of polka dots in my last post without mentioning my other love: stripes. What can I say? I’m an equal opportunity pattern lover! In picking up new clothes this summer for myself and my daughters, my friend Erin and I both noticed how many beautiful stripes were out there this year – I don’t think they ever go out of style actually. Here are some of the stripes my girls and I have been rocking this summer (from favorites JCrew, Crewcuts, Madewell and Anthropologie) plus a Chevron stripe from JCrew I’m obsessing about for fall: