Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Pillowcase Rompers

I am loving the pillowcase style for my girls this summer! Above, Mary Ashley and Emma model pillowcase rompers made from a pattern from Etsy designer Whimsy Couture. You can find directions for making my grandmother's pillowcase dress pattern here.

And doesn't Emma look precious in her personalized headband? I'll share directions for this easy project tomorrow!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Teapot Garden Flowers

When I found this wire teapot on clearance at a local gift shop, I knew it would be perfect for a garden tea party.

To make a flower arrangement like this one, line the bottom of a wire form with moss. Cut a piece of floral foam, soaked according to package directions, and place it in a plastic bowl. Slip the bowl into the wire form and add a little more water to the bowl before covering the foam with moss. Cut floral stems at an angle, and slip them into the foam. Slip a few stems through the wires for a free-form look, and finish off the arrangement with ribbon if desired.

See last week's posts for more ideas from our flip-flop tea party. And be sure to check out this post from last summer for directions on making a flip-flop cake!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Ladies Summertime Tea Menu

My friend Stacey and I had a lovely tea party this week -- eating, swimming and watching our children play together. Stacey brought our tea selection, a deliciously smooth coconut chai by Zhena's Gypsy Tea.

Our Tea Menu

Tropical Chicken Salad Served on a Bed of Field Greens

Fresh Strawberries, Pineapple and Grapes

Lemon and Banana Nut Muffins

Colby-Jack Cheese Cubes with Wheat Crackers

Coconut Chai Tea

Homemade Lemon Ice Cream with Whipped Cream

Tropical Chicken Salad

Meat from whole lemon-pepper rotisserie chicken, shredded
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons pickle juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans
8-ounce can pineapple tidbits, drained
15-ounce can mandarin oranges, drained
1 tablespoon parsley flakes
1/2 cup chopped green onions

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, and refrigerate until serving. To serve, mound the chicken salad on a bed of field greens. If desired, drizzle a little raspberry-walnut vinaigrette dressing over the salad to moisten. Serves 6.

Lemon Ice Cream

I first discovered this recipe just out of college while working as an editorial assistant at Christian Woman magazine. I accompanied the graphic designer to the photo shoot for recipes using lemons and loved this ice cream so much, I went right out and bought an ice cream maker so I could try this recipe myself. All these years later, it is still a perfectly refreshing treat on a hot summer day.

8 lemons
3 cups sugar
1 pint whipping cream
1 quart milk

Slice two lemons paper thin (do not peel the lemons, and it is important they be paper thin). Cut the slices into halves, then fourths. Set aside. Juice remaining lemons. Dissolve the sugar in the juice. This much can be done ahead and refrigerated until time to complete making ice cream. Combine the lemon-sugar mixture with the whipping cream and milk. Add the two lemons you set aside earlier. Stir well, and pour it into freezer can. Freeze according to manufacturer's directions. Serve with whipped cream. Note: I cut the lemon slices into smaller sections. My children liked the ice cream, but did not care for the lemon pieces. Next time, I plan to try zesting, then juicing, the two lemons instead of slicing them.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Flip-Flop Tea for Kids

Pink and green buckets from Hobby Lobby were perfect for our recent pool party, filled with finger foods. Sand pails from Dollar Tree were great for the boys.

Kids Menu

Plastic fish toothpick skewers with ham and Colby-jack cheese cubes

Fruit skewers with fresh strawberries, pineapple and grapes

Blueberry muffins

Goldfish snack crackers

Flip-flop cookies

I packed all the children's buckets identically but piled extra food on platters so the children could graze on their favorites throughout the afternoon.

Bottled waters with scrapbook-paper labels were a refreshing treat on a hot day. A teacup stuffed with individual-serving-size packets of Crystal Light and Kool-Aid gave the children a variety of flavor options.

Each child's place was cute and colorful with a bucket of food, personalized water bottle, flip-flops and name card. See yesterday's post for directions on decorating flip-flops.

Still to come, the mommies' tea party menu and directions for making a floral teapot arrangement.

The Flip-Flop Kids

The girls' preschool friends Emma and Lizzy joined us for a pool party this week.

Christian and Carson pose for a photo before getting wet.

Three-year-old Lizzy is a ray of sunshine.

At 5, Mary Ashley has come so far this summer in learning to swim. I told her that the boys got a little treat when they could swim across the shallow end, but she misunderstood me and swam the whole length of the pool her first time across. I was so proud of her!

Five-year-old Emma takes time out for a snack.

A little girl time.

Three-year-old Emma thinks Goldfish are a perfect treat after swimming.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Make Ribbon-Embellished Flip-Flops

Decorated flip-flops made perfect party favors for our poolside tea party.

Butterfly flip-flops purchased at Wal-Mart for $2.50 a pair got a makeover for the first official day of summer. Because I used hot glue to make these, I decorated them before the party rather than letting the little ones help me with the project. The girls were excited to find a pair at each place and enjoyed modeling them during the evening.

I used a variety of grosgrain ribbons for this project, including narrow polka dotted ribbons in soft shades of pink and turquoise. A 5-yard roll of 3/8-inch ribbon should give you enough ribbon to wrap the soles and straps for a smaller size pair. Wider coordinating ribbon formed the bows. Mixing and matching ribbons made for cute combinations, resulting in a unique pair for each girl.

To begin, run a bead of hot glue around the sole, pressing a length of ribbon into place as you go. The next step is to wind ribbon around the straps. This step took me about 10 minutes per shoe. Start by applying a drop of hot glue to the underside of the strap. Press the end of the ribbon into the glue and wind the ribbon around one time. Then apply glue a little at a time across the strap, winding the ribbon tightly around the strap as you go. Slightly overlap the ribbon as you go so the strap will be covered completely. Be careful of your fingers during this process, and keep a glass of cold water nearby in case you get burned by the hot glue. For the final step, glue a bow to the top of the flip-flop, finishing the streamer edges with a no-fray solution.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Flip-Flop Tea Party

We celebrated the first official day of summer in a big way yesterday with a poolside flip-flop tea party with our friends Emma and Lizzy and their mom, Stacey.

We are experiencing temperatures in the 90s in Alabama, so I scheduled our get-together for 4 o'clock. Our pool is shaded in late afternoon, so this is the most pleasant time to be outside.

I set our table before our company arrived with salad plates for us mommies and finger-food buckets for the children. For this relaxed gathering, we all ate and swam at our leisure.

And, of course, I couldn't send the girls home without party favors!

Swimming, playing and sharing tea with friends was a great way to begin our summer. I'll share more of the fun all week!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Flip-Flop Invitations

The girls are so excited to host their preschool friends Emma and Lizzy for a poolside tea party this afternoon!

I couldn't resist these adorable print-your-own invitations by Plain Jane, picked up on clearance from Hobby Lobby. But you can easily format flip-flop invitations on the computer by resizing a flip-flop graphic to the desired size and adding a text box with party information. Print the invitations on card stock or scrapbook paper, and cut out the flip-flops. Use a hole punch or craft knife to cut each side of the toe area, and thread coordinating ribbon through. Finish off the invitations with a cute bow, and guests are sure to flip for these flip-flops!

I will be sharing photos, crafts and recipes from our flip-flop themed celebration this week, so please come back daily!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Simple Summer Supper

We enjoyed dinner by the pool when my best friend, Vonda, visited with her husband, Mike, and their daughter, Hannah. Our simple summer supper included several favorite recipes I've requested from friends.



Hot Bacon Swiss with Corn Chips

Roasted New Potato Salad

Asian Slaw

Ice Cream

Pink Lemonade

Hot Bacon Swiss

Although my friend Lara Graham usually doubles this recipe when she serves it to girlfriends, there is rarely any left for her husband when we leave!

1 cup grated Swiss cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
8-ounce block of cream cheese
1 jar Hormel Bacon Bits
Crushed Ritz crackers (about 1 sleeve)

Mix cheese, mayonnaise and cream cheese with a blender, then spread mixture into a baking dish. Top with Hormel Bacon Bits, then crushed Ritz crackers. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, or until bubbly. Serve with corn chips.

Roasted New Potato Salad

This recipe from Debra Norton is delicious served warm as soon as it's tossed, but leftovers are good served chilled the next day.

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds small red potatoes, diced
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
8-10 slices crisp, cooked bacon, crumbled
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1/2 to 3/4 cup Ranch dressing
Salt and pepper to taste

Place olive oil in a jelly roll pan; add potatoes and the next four ingredients, tossing to coat. Arrange in a single layer. Bake at 425 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes, or until potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally. Cool slightly, then transfer to a large bowl. Toss together potatoes, bacon and green onions. Drizzle dressing over a little at a time, and toss with potatoes. Add salt and pepper to taste, and garnish with green onions. Serve immediately, or cover and chill.

Oriental Broccoli Slaw

This recipe is a summertime favorite around here. I first sampled it when a sweet lady from our church, Karen Pruitt, invited the young mothers of our congregation over for a pool party a few years ago. Karen asked us to bring sack lunches for our children, and she treated us mommies to a delicious ladies lunch.

1 pound bag broccoli slaw
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup slivered almonds
2 packages ramen noodles (Oriental or chicken flavored)
3/4 cup oil
1/4 cup vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
Seasoning packets from ramen

Toss broccoli slaw, sunflower seeds and slivered almonds in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, whisk oil, vinegar, sugar and seasoning packets from ramen. Toss with dressing. Just before serving, break up ramen noodles and toss them in (uncooked and crispy). Notes: This recipe stretches to feed a crowd, but can be halved for a family dinner. Unfortunately, it doesn't keep well, so encourage guests to enjoy extra servings while it is fresh.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Old Friends

"There is a garden in every childhood, an enchanted place where colors are brighter, the air softer, and the morning more fragrant than ever again." -- Elizabeth Lawrence

This picture of Carson and Hannah at 2 is still one of my all-time favorites. It sits on my bedside table, and each day when I see it, I am reminded of this sweet moment my best girlfriend, Vonda, captured on film many years ago. It seems that these two went from toddlers to "tenagers" in the blink of an eye! They had not seen each other in several years, but enjoyed catching up when Mike, Vonda and Hannah visited last weekend. Here are Carson and Hannah, now.

Carson and Hannah at 10. (They have come a long way since we propped them on the sofa together as infants for photos!)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Like Pink Lemonade

"The best kind of friend is the one you could sit on a porch with, never saying a word, and walk away feeling like that was the best conversation you've had." --Author Unknown

Fresh flowers in sunshiny shades of pink, green, yellow and white made a happy bouquet to welcome dear friends who stopped in for a visit over the weekend.

I was delighted when my best girlfriend, Vonda, called to say her family would be travelling through Alabama on their way to the beach. Vonda and I have spent many hours together doing crafts, visiting tea rooms, sharing Bible studies and touring historic sites. But she has such a precious spirit, I would be happy to just sit with her on the porch somewhere, sipping pink lemonade.

Vonda is my pink lemonade friend -- sweet, ladylike and refreshing. I will share recipes and highlights from our visit this week. May we all be so blessed to sit on the porch this summer with a special friend!

"I question not if thrushes sing,
If roses load the air;
Beyond my heart I need not reach
When all is summer there."
-- John Vance Cheney

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Doh to Share

Personalized cans of Play-Doh are a perfect take-home treat for school, church or birthday party fun.

I wish I had remembered my camera for our congregation's vacation Bible school last week! I am always amazed at the creativity that goes into this fabulous week. Pictured above is a simple take-home favor I put together for my class of 4-year-olds. I hope that scrapbook paper labels wrapped around little cans of Play-Doh will remind these children of Isaiah 64:8: "But now, O LORD, Thou art our Father, we are the clay, and Thou our potter; and all of us are the work of Thy hand."

Monday, June 15, 2009

Oh, Savannah!

Our recent trip to Savannah was love at first site. In this photo, the well-known Forsyth Square Fountain.

In celebration of our 15th wedding anniversary later this week, Joe recently surprised me with a quick trip to my dream destination: Savannah, Ga. We arrived on a Tuesday night, spent Wednesday in Savannah, then drove to nearby Tybee Island Thursday morning before heading home. Although we only had one full day in Savannah, our family packed a week's worth of memories into our brief visit.

The Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist, a beloved Savannah landmark.

Joe, the children and I spent Wednesday morning roaming the streets of downtown Savannah on foot, learning about the city's rich history through the monuments erected on the city's public squares.

A friend recommended the Owens-Thomas House as a must-see.

I spotted this house in the morning and made plans to return for a tour by myself later in the afternoon. But first we had reservations for afternoon tea! We also shopped, strolled along the riverfront, and listened to local tales of folklore. From beginning to end, our day in Savannah was a perfectly romantic adventure that left me eager to return to this beautiful southern city.

Mary Ashley takes a longing look at the Low Country.

I hope you will come back every day this week as we celebrate the history, culture and beauty of Savannah!

Shall We Gather at the River

On our recent visit to Savannah, we stayed downtown by the river.

The evening we arrived, we strolled along the riverfront, taking in the sites and sampling Savannah culture.

Street performers entertained the crowd along the river's edge, while across the street rows of shops and restaurants beckoned.

The children enjoyed exploring the riverfront -- especially after our long drive.

Watching the boats slowly make their way down the river gave a peaceful cadence to our time by the river.

The next evening, we returned to the riverfront after a full day spent exploring downtown Savannah. I coaxed weary smiles from the children with promises of sweet treats.

And Savannah's Candy Kitchen had a variety of homemade treats to tempt us!

Fresh sorbet was a perfect treat -- a sweet end to a perfect southern day!

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