Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Housewarming Gift Baskets

Two members of our Victoria team have just bought their first houses -- what a happy milestone! Seeing their excitement takes me back to the first little cottage Joe and I purchased. We spent our first days there painting, and I remember running my hand over the walls in awe, thinking, I can't believe these are our walls!

To celebrate my co-workers' good news, I put together a housewarming gift for each one. Tucked into rustic baskets lined with flour sack towels, I hope these goodies will be used for years to come.

Nothing makes a house more cozy and inviting than the scent of something scrumptious baking in the oven, so I'm hoping the cookbook above will yield some inspiration for sweet treats.

This romantic Adelaide teacup and saucer looked perfect for my friend who first fell in love with her new home's wraparound porch and claw-foot tub. Find more of this china collection here.

And for my other friend, whose journey to the ideal house took many months, a pristine white teapot and wishes for many cups of tea in her new haven.

Little notes and bouquets of fresh tulips complete these baskets of good cheer.

Packed with prayers for many happy years in their new abodes, these gifts whisper ...

Welcome Home!

"Home, the spot of earth supremely blest,
A dearer, sweeter spot than all the rest."
~ Robert Montgomery

Friday, February 13, 2015

A Sweet Valentine's Read

"What I couldn't have known was all that you'd be
by you being you and giving to me."
~ Marianne Richmond

This year I discovered the loveliest book to give the children for Valentine's Day!

by Marianne Richmond

I used to give each of the children a book to commemorate the holiday, but as they are getting older and the boys have more assigned literature at school, they don't all enjoy reading for pleasure to the same degree. I was going to forgo the tradition this year, but when I read the message of this beautifully illustrated children's classic, I couldn't resist getting a copy for my four. This treasure is sure to become a family favorite. The girls and I have shared some cozy story times with this book, and earlier this week I asked Mary Ashley to read it to the family before dinner. Today I will be taking it to Emma's school, where I am coordinating an ice-cream sundae party for the birthday girl's class. I'm certain her third-grade friends will love it, too! Click the title above to learn more about this heart-filled love letter written from parent to child.

"You're my joy beyond joy, to grow you, my child,
my delight and my thankful, my adventure, my wild."
~ Marianne Richmond 

Monday, February 9, 2015

February Loves

This most romantic month is such a delight to my heart! Here are a few of my favorite products for February. Clockwise from top left: I literally gasped when I first saw our cover for the January/February issue of Victoria -- a vision of loveliness! A Peony Blanche scented candle from NEST Fragrances offers notes of peony blossoms with watery accents of jasmine, magnolia and lily. For the past month, my go-to purse has been this lined, rosebud-embellished sea grass tote from Barnes & Noble. I cannot resist sweetly scented soaps, like the petal bouquet from World Market and a Wild Rose bar from Fringe Studio. Center: Find luscious blooms like these pale pink roses -- fresh picked for easy, no-hassle delivery and lasting beauty -- at The Bouqs.

"A hundred hearts would be too few to carry all my love for you." ~ Anonymous

Thursday, February 5, 2015

A Swan Lake Lunch

I cannot help but smile whenever I see this photo. With best friend Emma Cate here for the weekend, Mary Ashley said she has never felt so happy. Instead of having a traditional party for her 11th birthday, we planned a low-key extended visit for these gal pals. 

The highlight of the weekend was a trip to downtown Birmingham to watch Swan Lake. This Fitz and Floyd teapot made an easy centerpiece for lunch before the ballet.

Here is the birthday girl, pausing for a portrait.

Before lunch, I took some pictures of the girls. So along with photos of our festive tablescape, here are some favorite images of these besties.

Mary Ashley and Emma Cate have been the best of friends since kindergarten.

Fresh-cut hydrangeas and feather boas enhanced the softness of this sea of pastels.

These girls haven't seen each other in person since we moved 18 months ago, but they picked back up as if no time had passed. That's a blessing of true friendship!

Make a wish, sweet girl!

The girls wanted to be as fancy as could be for our trip to the ballet. Their shimmering dresses were not expensive, but the girls felt like princesses during their afternoon on the town. (Emma's dress, left, and Mary Ashley's dress, right.)

Mary Ashley's favorite menu of poppy seed chicken, rice, green beans, crescent rolls and cupcakes was easy to prepare between church and showtime.

One of my favorite shots!

Swan Lake place cards, adorned with a feather.

The girls were so enamored with the feather boas we used on the table, they asked to wear them to the performance.

Monogrammed acrylic cupcake toppers from Viv&Lou are sure to get repeated use.

It was such fun watching these two catch up. Friendship is such a gift, and it is worth the investment to ensure that precious relationships endure. We can't wait to get together again!

"A friend is one of the nicest things you can have, and one of the best things you can be." ~ Douglas Pagels

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Celebrating with Swan Lake

Mary Ashley's recent birthday brought a different type of celebration for our family.

For her 11th birthday, Mary Ashley decided she would most like to have her best friend since kindergarten, Emma Cate, spend the weekend with us.

As a culmination of their special time together, we planned an outing to the ballet. Lunch before the performance got us girls in the mood to see Swan Lake.

This teapot and feathers helped set the tone for the festivities.

After lunch we headed downtown for the show.

These sweet girls had such a good time together! I will be sharing portraits of them in my next post.

The show was lovely, and a highlight for the girls was having their photo taken with one of the ballerinas.

Look for more photos and details from our pre-ballet lunch in my next post.

"Swan Lake is the most difficult thing to portray for a female ballet dancer; it really requires such specific qualities of articulation, agility, strength, and the arm work is something that takes a lot of training." ~ Benjamin Millepied

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Sharing My Cup of Tea

I hope you will join me on the Victoria blog today, where I am sharing my love for British costume dramas, along with this delicious teatime recipe for Special-Delivery Fruit Tarts. Find my post here.

We celebrated Mary Ashley's birthday over the weekend, so I will share the details of our Swan Lake festivities in upcoming posts!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

January Roses

"People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us." ~ Iris Murdoch

Happy New Year! Can anything brighten the day more than fresh flowers? Especially during these wintry days, when the daylight is scarce but the sniffles are plentiful, a lovely bouquet can bring a much-needed ray of sunlight.

I recently added a link to my sidebar for The Bouqs, an innovative florist that takes the hassle and expense from online ordering. For a flat fee of  $40, send a fresh-cut bouquet anywhere in the United States. Flowers are cultivated in the nutrient-rich volcanic soil of Ecuador and shipped directly from the grower to the recipient.

The company sent me a complimentary bouquet, and these luscious peach roses lasted nearly two weeks. The photos in this post were taken a full week after I received them.

Within a few weeks, our attentions will turn to Valentine's Day and the floral gifts we so often associate with this most romantic of holidays, but I would suggest that the quiet days of January are actually the perfect time for an unexpected bouquet. If you are craving a little beauty in the new year, I invite you to find a garden of fresh blooms at The Bouqs.

"I'd rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck." ~ Emma Goldman

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