Friday, January 26, 2018

Top 10 Posts of the Decade

Last week, as the tenth anniversary of A Little Loveliness approached, I decided to look into statistics to determine some of my most popular posts. I knew without a doubt which one would take top honors because I still get occasional emails about this party detail, but other favorites were a surprise. Keep reading for a countdown of most-viewed features, and click the numbered heading to visit any you might have missed!

It truly touched my heart to see that this little moment I observed -- an exchange I might have forgotten had I not preserved it here -- has been one of my most shared devotionals. Often we think that grand gestures demonstrate a giving spirit, but this sweet lady proves that the smallest acts of thoughtfulness can add up to a lifetime of blessing others.

This recipe was developed with a favorite BBC costume drama in mind, but individual little fruit tarts could easily deliver sweet sentiments to loved ones at Valentine's Day.

Celebrating Emma's 7th birthday at a local pottery studio allowed us to paint the town pink. Actually, we used a rainbow of the birthday girl's favorite colors to create her perfect party palette. Click the heading above to catch some of my best resources, but don't miss the artist's palette invitation, necklace tutorial, party menu, and special memories.

From start to finish, this was such a dreamy celebration! The fun started with an invitation fashioned to look like a bed (with a fold-down, monogrammed pillow and custom paper doll), and the creative details continued with a bedroom tablescape, handmade pajamas and party hats, a festive menu, and an easy craft. Love!

When son Christian turned 10, we bowled him over with a surprise party at a local bowling alley. This was a fun activity for guests of all ages, with a theme that could work equally well for a boy or a girl. I still remember the look on Christian's face when he rounded the corner and saw friends and family gathered to celebrate!

I plan to share more of our most memorable holidays in an upcoming post, but this fall feast tops the charts as the most popular on the blog. Blue-and-white transferware is always a classic!

My grandmother devised her own method for making lined pillowcase dresses, and we enjoyed sewing several for Mary Ashley and Emma. This one, with its pastel polka dots, ruffled hem, long grosgrain ribbon ties, and coordinating monogram, was precious as could be. This simple style was definitely a reader favorite, as you will see as our countdown continues.

Oh, what sweet memories this post brings back! Mary Ashley, Emma and I hosted friends for a mother-daughter tea party, and after our meal we made doll dresses from pretty tea towels. This was a great first sewing project to work on together. I would love to step back in time and gather the girls into my lap to experience this fun afternoon of crafting again.

Simple yet tasty, this recipe offers a summer-perfect treat -- especially when finished with cute touches that hint at refreshing citrus flavor!

This little party post has by far exceeded any other post on the blog, with nearly 65,000 views, according to my statistics. I still get questions on making the little tulle skirt from time to time, and someday I WILL make a video tutorial to demonstrate! It makes me smile to know that so many other tiny dancers have let this invitation be the start of their own ballet-themed soirees. 

I hope that you have enjoyed this walk down memory lane! Here's hoping there is more loveliness to come over the next ten years.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Celebrating 10 Years of A Little Loveliness

"An anniversary is a time to celebrate the joys of today, the memories of yesterday, and the hopes of tomorrow." ~ Author Unknown

I can hardly believe that a decade has passed since I started A Little Loveliness. Through the years, it has become my sanctuary -- a treasury of many of my fondest memories, deepest thoughts, and favorite creative ideas. I linger here often, smiling as I revisit old posts. Oh, the memories we have made!

Life has changed so much since I published that first post on January 23, 2008. I see this most profoundly in looking at the children. Carson, now a freshman in college, was an 8-year-old in elementary school when this journey began. Ten years ago, I was adjusting to 6-year-old Christian's kindergarten year; today, I am making peace with the fact that he is a licensed driver. Mary Ashley was in preschool, and Emma was a toddler. Today, at 14 and 11, respectively, they are growing in grace and beauty every day. I must admit, I have shed quite a few tears looking back to the early days of my blog, when there was so much little in my babies. 

Along with the private joys of keeping an online journal, I have also been immensely blessed by the opportunities this forum has brought. I closed that first post, a decade ago today, with these words:

I hope this blog will be a cozy place to meet friends from far and near to share that cup of tea. Please visit often to share a Bible verse, see the children, exchange creative ideas or even find out what's for supper. I hope when you stop by you will find a little loveliness to remind you that your cup overflows with blessings. 
So come back soon! Because from my little spot in the world, I'm flinging the doors wide, brewing a pot of tea and saying "Welcome home!"

At the time, I had no idea that so many would come -- well over 4 million, in fact, to my surprise! It has been such a blessing to connect with so many people from around the world. Through the many transitions we have faced together, your friendship has been such an encouragement to me!

Quite fittingly, it seems, this milestone comes in the midst of a busy week. Our family's brimming schedule will leave little time for celebrating, but I think there is a beauty in marking the day by savoring its precious little moments. Sipping that steaming cup of tea first thing in the morning, catching a glimpse of the pretty bloom that has lasted nearly two weeks nestled in its blush pink vase, reading a word of Scripture that speaks perfectly to where I am now, being greeted with a hug from one of my nearly grown-up teenagers -- these are the precious gifts to be unwrapped during even the most hectic of seasons.

In the coming days, I plan to share some of the most popular posts from the past decade, and there will likely be a giveaway to commemorate this anniversary.

But for today, it's just me.

Extending a hand to you.

To say thank you for bringing a little loveliness into my life.

"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things" (Philippians 4:8).

Bigstock photo used with permission

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas!

"There'll be much mistletoeing and hearts will be glowing when loved ones are near."

This has been a time of transition for our us, as Carson graduated from high school and began his freshman year at Harding University. So far, he is absolutely loving campus life. We are so happy for him but miss having all four children under one roof. Knowing that we will be at home for the holidays, together again, makes this truly the "hap-happiest season of all."

Monday, December 18, 2017

Make Beaded Victoria Bookmarks

"The only gift is a portion of thyself." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

This has been a special year for Victoria magazine, as we have marked our 10th anniversary with Hoffman Media. To celebrate this milestone, I wanted to craft a special keepsake for each member of our staff.

I count it a privilege to work with such a talented team of creative women and thought it would be special to commemorate our shared success with a handmade bookmark.

This idea dawned when I found pretty brass and silver shepherd's hook bookmarks at Christmas Village, an annual holiday-shopping festival in Birmingham. Each one had a ring on the end for affixing a charm. Find a similar selection of styles here. Above, a completed bookmark rests on a Sasha Nicholas plate custom-made for the occasion of our 10th anniversary. See more of the celebratory festivities in our November/December issue!

I cut the miniature magazine covers from subscription insert cards and found perfectly sized frames in the jewelry section at Michaels. You could, of course, frame other ephemera or use another type of charm for the focal point. Other supplies for this project include jewelry wire and cutting pliers, crimping beads and crimping pliers, and assorted Swarovski crystal and pearl beads.

To make the bookmark, slip a magazine cover or other ephemera into the frame and adjust the positioning, if needed. Using cutting pliers, cut a length of jewelry wire a couple of inches longer than needed for the strand of beads. Bend the wire at about 1/2 inch, and loop the wire through the ring of the frame. Slide a crimping bead onto the long piece of wire, also catching the loose end; pull taut and crimp the bead. String approximately five decorative beads onto the wire, careful to cover the loose end of wire, and end with a second crimping bead. Loop the wire through the ring on the shepherd's hook, and thread the wire back through the crimping bead and two or three decorative beads. Pull the wire taut, and use cutting pliers to carefully clip remaining wire.

Making these sweet little bookmarks not only offered a delightful evening of crafting but also served as a reminder of how blessed I am to work with talented people to produce a magazine that I have loved for so many years. Here's to the next decade of bliss!

"But I'm always dreaming, even when I'm awake; it is never finished." ~ Peter S. Beagle

Monday, December 11, 2017

The Season's First Snowfall

"The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found?" ~ J.B. Priestley

A blanket of joy and wonder fell over the South this past weekend, as we experienced the loveliest snowfall I can remember in Alabama. Last week saw temperatures above 70 degrees in our region, so this winter wonderland was such a sweet surprise. The slower pace offered a much-needed reprieve from the usual holiday bustle, and I think the weather brought out the kid in all of us!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Classic Sewing for the Holidays

"Methinks it is a token of healthy and gentle characteristics, when women of high thoughts and accomplishments love to sew; especially as they are never more at home with their own hearts than while so occupied." ~ Nathaniel Hawthorne

An exciting highlight of the Christmas season has been getting to see Emma on the cover of the Holiday issue of Classic Sewing. A sister to Victoria, Classic Sewing is one of the newer publications at Hoffman Media. This quarterly magazine includes full-size patterns that are certain to delight beginning to experienced sewists. In response to reader requests for styles suitable for the older girl, the editors have offered the sophisticated dress shown above. The elegant neckline, scalloped bodice and softly gathered skirt make this a pattern perfect for special occasions of all kinds. Emma modeled the dress at one of our in-house studios this summer, and we have eagerly awaited its release. Catch her on the newsstand at Barnes & Noble, Joann Fabric and Crafts, or in your favorite specialty sewing store. To purchase the issue online, visit the Classic Sewing store.

"All my scattering moments are taken up with my needle." ~ Ellen Birdseye Wheaton

Monday, December 4, 2017

Memories of Thanksgiving 2017

So once in every year we throng
Upon a day apart,
To praise the Lord with feast and song
In thankfulness of heart.
~ Arthur Guiterman

We were blessed to welcome my side of the family for Thanksgiving this year. Our gathering of twenty loved ones was a feast of gratitude, with a delicious spread of food, plenty of laughter and conversation, and a heartfelt devotional time together.  

Gathering in late afternoon allowed us to capture the waning autumn sunlight for family portraits. Before we began final preparations for the meal and set the cousins loose to play, my brother, Nathan, took all of the group photos in this post.

For our dining room tablescape, I filled a pumpkin soup tureen with roses and hydrangeas in a soft palette of blue, green, pink and cream.

The holiday week offered Carson his first opportunity to come home since leaving for college in August. I was already counting down the days to his return, but a traffic accident that totaled his car just an hour from campus made us even more grateful to be reunited. Thankfully, he was not seriously injured, and we are left with appreciation for the kind strangers who stepped in immediately to help. My mama heart was so happy having all four children under one roof again!

For the first time ever, I used disposable plates, napkins and cutlery for our holiday meal. I was unsure about this decision at first but ultimately enjoyed exchanging some of my time in the kitchen for more relaxed enjoyment of our guests.

Time with my father and siblings is always a treasure!

Atop a ruffled linen runner, smaller arrangements in coordinating soup bowls echoed the hues of the larger centerpiece of blooms. Glazed ceramic pumpkins, little leaf bowls filled with cranberries and candles, and fresh-cut foliage filled out the tableau.

As my sister, Jennifer, said so eloquently, "These kids. They are special and unique in their own way. I am so blessed that I get to call each of them my own ... my child, my niece, my nephew. As they get older, time becomes more precious and memories more dear."

Although the calendar has already slipped into December, I could not move into the Christmas season without sharing the happy memories from our Thanksgiving Day celebration -- cherished hours of togetherness that I will always hold close to my heart.

"Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow." ~ Edward Sandford Martin

Friday, October 27, 2017

Celebrating Autumn Beauty

Oh, how my heart thrills to the sight of heirloom pumpkins stacked into glorious towers of color! I snapped this photo at Leaf & Petal at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens earlier this month. Nestled among flowers and topiaries, these vibrant gourds greet guests outside the gate. Even before I stepped into the gardens, I had already decided that this lovely vignette was worth the trip.

This weekend also holds the promise of memory making, as I will be speaking for a ladies day tomorrow at the Hoover Church of Christ. If you live in the Birmingham area, please join us for a special morning. Registration begins at 8:30, and the event concludes with lunch. Hope to see you there!

"October is a hallelujah! reverberating in my body year-round ... ." ~ John Nichols

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Impressions of Fall

The softened light, the veiling haze,
The calm repose of autumn days,
Steal gently o'er the troubled breast,
Soothing life's weary cares to rest.
~ Phebe A. Holder

Monday, October 16, 2017

Roses in October

"And then the rose-border. What intensity in those odorous buds of the Bon Silene, making the very spirit bound as though a message had reached it from heaven." ~ Sarah Smiley

Since we moved to Birmingham, I have had grand intentions of visiting the city's botanical gardens at least once every few months to view each season's blossoms. I haven't done so well at visiting regularly, but Antiques at the Gardens offered a perfect opportunity for joining a friend for an afternoon of loveliness. After we perused the antiques show, we paused for lunch on the terrace of the onsite cafe then spent a couple of hours strolling the grounds. A highlight of the trip was discovering that the rose gardens are still in full bloom. In this flower-filled post, view some of the amazing buds that piqued our attention. And if you get the opportunity, invite one of your amazing buds to take a peek at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens!

Look for more garden beauty to come in upcoming posts!

Blog Widget by LinkWithin