December 22, 2011

Cards, Cards, Cards

Every year, I squeal with delight as I open the mailbox from Thanksgiving to Christmas.  It's a fun time of the year and instead of the normal stack of junk mail, circulars and (cough cough) bills; we get the pleasure of opening a series of festive envelopes from friends and family.  Inside, the most creative cards, the most beautiful family portraits and the most adorable stories and letters recapping the year. 

Every year, I struggle with what to do with these adorable and sweet cards.  This year, I had a self proclaimed brilliant idea and ran a pretty ribbon down the fronts of my kitchen desk cabinetry.  On one ribbon, I hung our family card of years past.  On the other, I joyfully hung the pictures and cards of each and every one of our friends.  Simple, plain clothes pins did the trick and I just love the outcome.  I can't walk out of my house without passing this sweet display and just putting myself in a festive mood. 

So thank you dear friends ... we just love each and every one of your cards and appreciate you sharing the joy of your family with us!


Thanksgiving Tree

As part of our newfound Thanksgiving traditions, this year was the first time we created a chain of thankful thoughts.  This sweet project was explained in this previous posting.  I promised myself that the thanksgiving decor would be traded in for Christmas decor NO LATER than Decemberr 1.  Well, I just couldn't part with the thankful chain yet.  As I put up my Christmas decor, I had the idea to take this chain and use it to decorate a small tree in my dining room.  In addition to some beautiful white washed ornaments and leopard ribbon, the thankful chain was the perfect decoration.  Friends and family have had a good time reading the things Dear Hubs and I are thankful for, I think "Golden Girl reruns at 2am (when Baby B wakes up)" was especially a hit!

I just love the way this turned out!

Baby B's Tree

Being a bit of a Christmas decor enthusiast, it was only natural that we would highlight a new themed tree as part of this year's festive display.  That special tree would be one for our sweet, little Baby B.  It was decided (before he was even born) that we would give him an ornament every year so that he had a darling collection of his very own Christmas ornaments as he became an adult.  Each ornament would be special and tell a story of sorts as he grows.  Adding to this idea, the grandmothers joined in and decided to also give Baby B an ornament.  Each set of grand parents would provide an ornament that has special meaning to them and represents something of mine or Dear Hub's childhood.  It was very sweet that they wanted to participate and I know Baby B will have a HUGE collection in no time at this rate. 

We started our tree decorating with ribbon (of course) and topping the tree with a little Baby B sized star. 

Even without the ornaments, he was just captivated by the colored lights.  Yes, this tree has colored lights and it goes against my "exclusively white light" decor.  But, I'm filing this one away with the "things you do for kids" excuse and will permit the boy to have a fun, colorful tree!

As we opened the ornaments from the grandparents, we explained what they were and let Baby B hold his new treasures.  Dear Hub's parents sent down a cute little german shepherd dog ornament, because Dear Hub's fave pet growing up was his sweet shepherd named Hildy.

Zsa Zsa and my Dear Ole' Dad wrapped up a darling snow globe to explain to Baby B how much I loved the snow as a child.  And, they sent a second "bonus" ornament that was a football to represent the football ties that brought me and Dear Hubs together.  Well, while the football ornament sure was cute, it didn't last long.  With one 2 second grab, it was broken and on the floor!  Woopsie... we just learned a valuable lesson - no glass ornaments any time soon!

I'm already plotting what ornament we will add to the collection next year!

Breakfast with Santa

Baby B had the esteemed honor of meeting the jolly old man himself not once but TWICE this year!  It's shocking that the man in the red suit can make his way to two separate events JUST to see Baby B, but none the less we are ever appreciative and sure hope Baby B was on the "nice" list this year!

For our first visit, I was warned by my experienced mommy friends that I must get on the wait list, then get in the lottery, then get a reservation all to see the jolly old man at Phipps Plaza.  While that visit didn't dissappoint, we had an equally fab time at our breakfast with Santa at the golf club. 

Mrs. Clause sat and laughed with our little elf for a good long while.  Baby B was the most perfect companion for giggle time!  

After a short little wait, it was our turn to tell the big man what we wanted for Christmas.  Baby B just giggled and cooed for a good long while.  He was just smitten with Santa.  When it was time to have our brunch, Santa offered that Baby B was just so darling that he could come back anytime! 

We enjoyed a lovely brunch and Baby B kept trying to persuade us all to give him "just a bite" of the big boy food.  Sorry, not this year sweet boy!  After some fun, he was just tapped out and took a little snooze right there on Zsa Zsa's shoulder.  Awww, so sweet... and to all a good night!

Precious Piggy

While the holiday wind down is in progress, I'm only just now catching up on all the glorious activities we have done over the past few weeks.  Between parties, traditions, baby dedications, festive eatings, decoratings (shall I go on...) I'm just plain zonked this week.  It's been an absolutely perfect holiday season thus far and I've loved every minute of it.  After we shed our Christmas decor best yesterday, thanks to the help of my MIL and FIL before they left town, I sat for a moment only to find my head wandering about what fun we should plan and do next!  Oh lawzie ... give it a break already!

A few weeks back when our sweet friends the M family were in town, we made our way to the Pink Pig at Lenox.  For those in Atlanta, or around the south for that matter, you know this is an absolute must do.  There was just NO way that I was going to permit Baby B's first Christmas season to be complete without a trip to see this precious pig!

I have such vivid memories as a child of my sweet family making our way down to the Christmas parade in downtown Atlanta, dining on cheeseburgers at the famous Sundial restaurant (Zsa Zsa much would have preferred classier food options I'm sure ... but we were kids) and capping off the day with a ride of the Pink Pig when she was in her original location at the downtown Rich's building.  I'm happy to report that the train like car that is now commissioned is much more accessible for us adult type riders.  And while I'd have paid a large sum of money to see Dear Hubs and his bud R fold up their oversized 6 foot 5 inch frames into that little cart, I know we were all thrilled to see something more rider friendly!

My, My ...

Where does the time go?  I seriously feel like I say that on an hourly, daily and weekly basis these days!  We have been living large with parties for birthdays and holidays, crafting, decorating and enjoying every minute of the most wonderful (all be it stressful) time of the year.  As I promise to catch up on some fun little posts over the next (hopefully calmer) few days, I wanted to go ahead and wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and lots of love and well wishes for a prosporous New Year. 

Here's a look at this year's family Christmas card.  Each year, I try my darnedest to come up with a sweet card that captures our cute diva dogs.  Well, this year it feels like it's time to expand the photo sessions to include the most darling baby on the planet, Baby B.  I just swoon over some of the creative things my talented besties and friends come up with when it comes to graphic design, but I must say I'm pretty pleased with how these cuties turned out, too!


December 12, 2011

Gift Wrapables

Last week, LaLa gave me a sneak peak at some of her creative wrappings for this Christmas season.  I thought they were just darling and had to share! 

While I don't have the step by step instructions on "how to", LaLa swears these are easy as pie to make.  First, you start with a square of burlap (available at any fabric store).  She knows I'm just smitten with burlap so I think there are one or two under her tree for me, I can't wait!  Then, on some of the fabric squares, she painted a pattern with standard fabric paint.  Crafty LaLa said she used a cookie cutter to trace the shapes you see in these pics - how smart is that?  To assemble the bag, she said she just simply wrapped a box just like you would with paper.  She used hot glue to secure the seam on the back.  To form the bottom, she also secured with glue.  After removing the box she used as a form and replacing with her giftables, she tied it off with a festive bow on the top. 

Just darling!


December 05, 2011

Getting Older Every Day

One thing is certain, Baby B is growing like a little weed!  He's just shy of 5 months now and I swear it seems like just last week we had these 3 month pictures taken.  I can't believe I didn't share them prior ...guess we have been just too busy living up every moment that I almost forgot to take a breath!

I was lucky enough to come across a fab photographer named Sara Esther thanks to a smashing groupon deal.  Sara and her team were sweet enough to let me use my deal for Baby B's 3 month pics.  We conviened at a lovely park in the Ansley area in town and snapped a few sweet shots of our family of three!  The team did a great job capturing some sweet shots and was so patient in dealing with the tempermental 3 month old "talent". 

We will definitely be calling Sara again!

December 02, 2011

No Sew Tree Skirt Transformation

Ya'll ... I'm just giddy after the success of this little diddy!  Ok, that rhymed; but seriously this project exceeded my expectations.  Years ago, I grabbed up this tree skirt at an after Christmas sale.  I never loved it and frankly thought the sequin train was horribly tacky.  I'm sure in the right context, with the right tree ... it would be just fine.  It has just never really matched my style but, I was in a pinch and it was a "good deal" marked down from $100 so I convinced myself it was fine.  Well, as the years passed ... I found myself actually flipping it over and using the solid underside as the topside just so I could have a solid skirt.

Well, that was until this year when inspiration hit!  After deciding it was imperative that my gift wrap and tree skirt coordinate with the overall look and theme of my decor, I just knew something had to be done with the existing skirt.  Last night, I gathered up some odds and ends supplies and crafted this without spending a dime!  Now, I'm the proud owner of a linen and muslin skirt that just couldn't be more perfect for the family room "Partridge in a Pear Tree" natural themed tree.    Wahoo!  Total success!

When Baby B decided to nod off for a little snooze before his scheduled bedtime, I took the opportunity to get a jump start on this project.  Conveniently enough, this actually started out with a plan to be a quick sew project, but time was of the essence and I somehow managed to hide all of my sewing machine supplies (needles, thread, etc) from myself.  When it wasn't quickly found, I resorted to plan B ... my trusty glue gun!  This was actually a great change of plan, because I was able to fashion my "new" skirt on the underside of the old one and kept the sequined disaster in tact on the opposite side.  Who knows ... maybe one day I will need it!

Here's how I did it:
Supply Round Up:
  • Glue Gun and LOTS of glue sticks
  • Ruler / Yard stick
  • Scissors
  • Fabric - I actually used scrap linen and muslin left over from other projects
  • Old tree skirt

*note: the amount of fabric you need will really just depend on how big you do you ruffles and layers.  You can easily eyeball it, the first (outside) layer takes a lot more than you think it will - but the smaller inside layers take a lot less!

Craft in a Flash:
1.  Start by cutting your fabric into strips.  I used my rick rack sheers to give a cute finish to the edge without having to sew one bit.  My strips were from decorator width fabric (50" + wide).  Each strip was cut 8 inches deep.  Overall, I used about 1 yard (give or take) of each fabric.

2.  Next, I measured in and marked the pleats for the fabric.  The easiest way to do this is to lightly mark the fabric with tick marks.  I measured 5 inches, then a 2 inch measurement for the pleating.  I continued a 5-2-5-2 pattern across each of the fabric pieces. 

3.  On the tree skirt, I measured 6 inches in off the outside edge and marked with a marker.  Remember, I used the under side of the form and all of the markings will be covered with the new skirt.  By measuring 6 inches up, I gave myself enough of an overhang for about 2 inches to lay outside the form (and cover it completely).

4.  Begin applying the glue to the tree skirt form.  Lay the fabric strip into the glue line.  After you complete 5 inches of glueing to the form, pinch the 2 inch pleat on itself and secure with glue. 
5.  Continue all the way around the form.
6.  For the additional layers, simply measure up from your previous layer.  I maintained the 2 inch overhang to ensure my layers laid well on top of one another without any of the form sneaking through.  Continue the glue and pleat format described in previous steps.

I'm just in love with the end result!  Now, to top that skirt with some adorably wrapped gifts!  I've got a few ideas for gift tags and such that I just can't wait to share when I'm done!

~charmed, b

December 01, 2011

Birthday Dinner ...IN!

My dear bestie A just celebrated the anniversary of her 29th birthday ... again.  And we were lucky enough to have her and her family in town with us just days after her birthday fete.  After driving 5 plus hours from Charleston, the thought of packing up the littles (back in the car ... again) and hoping for 3 well behaved children and 4 adults was just too much to ask.  Instead, we celebrated their arrival and dear A's birthday with a fun make your own pizza dinner and a delish giant cupcake!

First, our casual appetizer (which Dear Hubs and I drooled over before they arrived trying to control ourselves) was a 5 layer Greek Dip served with pita chips.  So easy and so good, you must try!  If you humor me and browse through the pictures below, the recipe for this tasty treat is at the bottom!

Then, with the pizza toppings laid out buffet style, bigs and littles took turns topping their pizza crust with fresh ingredients.  After a short bake in the oven, everyone had the pizza that tickled their fancy.

And last but certainly not least ... a cupcake fit for a queen!  After years of resisting the purchase, I finally broke down and bought an oversized cupcake pan.  It was such a snap to make the cake and frosting it was a breeze.  I just may even break this little guy back out next week for Dear Hub's birthday!

Yummy Greek Dip (recipe below) served with pita chips

Look at all that yummy goodness!

Easy, breezy and kid friendly - toppings for the pizza!

Masterpiece in progress

Dear Hubs loading up his pizza pie!

Cupcakes for all!

A with her darling littles

The claps say it all - Happy Birthday!

5 Layer Greek Dip
1 container hummus
1 cucumber - diced and remove most seeds
1 red bell pepper - diced
1 jar kalamata olives
1 container feta cheese
fresh dill
pita chips

How To:
1.  In a serving dish, cover the bottom with a layer of hummus.
2.  Chop the cucumber, bell pepper and olives into diced, small pieces.  Combine in a bowl and add the dill.
3.  Layer the veggies on the hummus.
4.  Top with feta.
5.  Garnish with more dill.
6.  Serve with pita chips.

~charmed, b 

November 30, 2011

Easy, Fun Breakfast

Ya'll ... I must apologize in advance for the horrid photograph that accompanies this recipe.  Here's the scoop... I have a bad rep with friends and family for taking pictures of the strangest things.  Heck, I've even had an entire photo shoot over a cupcake before (they say confession is good for the soul, right?).  And so, when our dear friends, the M family, stayed with us a few weeks ago, I had to be sneaky and snap the pic of the finished product when everyone was occupied with littles, coffee or conversation!

I just love to entertain and I'm also a sucker for a delish breakfast.  This recipe is an easy two for one!  These little tasty treats are bacon, egg and cheese cups.  They make the perfect single serving for a big crowd.  Some of the gents even had two or three! 

Bacon, Egg and Cheese Breakfast Cups
(first select your quantity of finished items.  I will use X in the recipe below, but insert that quantity)

The Ingredients:
X eggs
X pieces of bread - white or wheat works just fine
X pieces of bacon
shredded cheese - I used about 1 to 1.5 cups  (just eyeball it)
salt and pepper to taste

How To:
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Begin by cooking the bacon to a state where it's warm but NOT crisp.  Don't worry, it will continue cooking when you bake.  I did mine in the microwave for about 3 minutes for 8 slices.
3.  Using a rolling pin, roll the bread to a 1/4 inch thickness.  You want this thin, but not so thin that it breaks.  Using a cookie cutter, cut a circle out of the bread that is big enough to fill the bottom of your muffin cups and also cover some of the side.
4.  Crack all eggs, whisk to scamble and add salt and pepper to taste.
5.  Place the bread in a greased muffin tin.  One piece per cup.
6.  Fold each piece of bacon in half and lay on top of the bread.
7.  Fill the cup with egg mixture.  Do NOT fill to the top, it will expand as you bake.  It's about 1 egg per cup.
8.  Sprinkle cheese on top.
9.  Bake for about 20 min or until set to your liking.  (the egg will stop jiggling when it's done!)

For a big group, plate these up for a large table to pass or dine on buffet style.  The best part ... you don't need a fork to eat these bacon and eggs!  Kids love that!

~charmed, b