Thursday, March 31, 2011

Time Out

I am taking an unexpected time out this week to tend to sick little ones with tummy troubles. I hope to be back soon!

Friday, March 25, 2011

American Girl Doll Store, Atlanta

The cherry on top of my weekend away with Mary Ashley and Emma was our much-anticipated trip to the American Girl Doll Store just north of Atlanta in Alpharetta, Ga. I insisted the girls save their birthday money for our trip, knowing they would regret it if they did not have spending money. Believe me, they were thankful for every penny when we stepped inside.

We planned our American Girl Store stop on the way to a ladies day in Greenville, S.C., and I think I was more giddy than the girls when we finally spotted the store sign. (Of course, I was the one who braved Atlanta traffic to get us there. Really, I felt like I had accomplished something navigating through seven lanes of interstate traffic. Whew!) 


I really wanted to dine with the girls in the American Girl Bistro, but we were unable to get reservations online. In fact, the whole weekend was booked solid. I told the girls we would put our name on a wait list while we shopped, just in case a spot opened up, and our timing worked out perfectly! We were seated at the counter almost immediately. During our meal, I overheard the hostess telling other families the wait was more than an hour. I was really counting our blessings that we got to have the full American Girl experience! 

Our meal was perfect from start to finish -- with plenty of food leftover to take with us. Mary Ashley enjoyed the fresh fruit plate, cheese pizza and dessert trio; Emma chose the chicken noodle soup, spaghetti and meatballs and cookies and cream sundae. I opted for the fruit, orange salmon and a cookies and cream milkshake. Everything was delicious, but we definitely should have shared one dessert!

Here are Mary Ashley and Emma fulfilling the American (Girl) Dream, ready to shop and eat at the American Girl Doll Store. I hope they will always remember our special trip!

Whose Shabby Apple dress dream is coming true? I must say, I was really tempted to choose this sweetie, who learned how to post comments just so she could enter the giveaway:

the dress is a cute dress.i love the dress.i love yellow flowers.i hope i get the dress.i love the outfit.i hope i win the dress.i love your blog it is cool.

mary ashley lester

Isn't that precious?

The winner of the sunny yellow dress with playful rosettes -- chosen by random number generator -- is Boo. Congratulations, Boo! I hope you will enjoy your new spring dress.

 My sweet girl and I might just have to do a little Shabby Apple dress shopping together today. You can, too, and be sure to use the code "alittleloveliness10off" at checkout to claim your 10 percent discount.
I hope your weekend will be full of sweet surprises!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Carolina Camellias

One of the highlights of our recent stroll through Clemson's South Carolina Botanical Garden was discovering the Camellia Trail in bloom. Above, Mary Ashley finds a pretty bloom on the ground. She did not realize that camellia blooms fall off the bush as the heavy blooms pass their peak and was disturbed to think that people had cut off the "roses" and thrown them on the ground. The garden boasts more than 400 varieties of camellias. Here are some of our favorites:

Here is a collage of all those pretty varieties. I wonder if you will find it as difficult as I do to pick a favorite.

I guess I will have to go with the pink ... and pink ... and pink.

Although you can't pick the flowers at the South Carolina Botanical Garden, you can still pick a spring dress at Shabby Apple. (Use code "alittleloveliness10off" at checkout to claim your 10 percent discount!) Register to win a dress here, and come back tomorrow to see if you won.

"I had to go back to that house… to see if camellias were in bloom." -- Lucinda Williams

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Stroll Through the South Carolina Botanical Garden

"I have been led up many a garden path but never more pleasurably than by a child. With such joy is the surprise sprung. With such delight my gullibility uncovered. I am happily the wiser for these trips up a garden path." -- Robert Brault

Mary Ashley, Emma and I enjoyed a wonderful trip to Greenville, S.C., over the weekend for a ladies day. On our drive up, I noticed a sign for The South Carolina Botanical Garden in Clemson, S.C. We did not have time to stop Friday, but I thought it was worth looking into on Saturday if the girls weren't too worn out after the ladies day. The girls were up for the adventure, so we took a little detour on our way home to visit Clemson.

Cultivated by the University of Clemson, the South Carolina Botanical Garden comprises nearly 300 acres of rolling hills with natural landscapes, display gardens, bubbling waterfalls, walking trails and more. We just skimmed the surface of the delights this public garden has to offer.

"I love spring anywhere, but if I could choose I would always greet it in a garden." -- Ruth Stout

SCBG is open year-round from dawn to dusk, free of charge. Only about 15 minutes from I-85, the garden is a great detour for travellers in need of a little fresh air.

It was so relaxing to break up a long drive with a stroll through the gardens. The air was thick with the smell of spring, and life was bursting forth all around. We only stopped for an hour, so I hope we will be able to go back sometime to catch some of the attractions we missed.

Can you spot Mary Ashley and Emma in this sea of green? I'm so thankful these two are eager to join me for garden adventures.

Oh, how I love those little girls!

Stop in tomorrow for more beautiful garden images. And if you have not registered for the Shabby Apple dress giveaway yet, be sure to do that here.


Friday, March 18, 2011

Shabby Apple Dress Giveaway

The first official day of spring is upon us! To celebrate the new season, which begins Sunday, I am pleased to share a generous giveaway from the online clothing boutique Shabby Apple. I just discovered this site and swooned over their feminine, flirty dresses -- like the white eyelet Daisy pictured above.

With its puffed sleeves and ruffled neckline, this flirty wrap dress called Penelope and Odysseus looks perfect for a spring wedding. And it is also available in my two favorite colors -- light pink and dark pink!

And this crisp white shirtdress, Bonheur, looks perfect for lunch with girlfriends.

To put some spring in your wardrobe, Shabby Apple is offering Happy Talk -- this sunny yellow dress adorned with playful rosettes -- to a reader of A Little Loveliness. To enter this giveaway, leave a comment below. For additional entries, follow A Little Loveliness or "like" Shabby Apple on Facebook. I will announce the winner next week!

And if you are in the mood to shop for spring dresses for ladies or little girls, visit Shabby Apple and enter the code "alittleloveliness10off" at checkout for a 10 percent discount.
I am off to Greenville, S.C., for a ladies day tomorrow at the Augusta Road Church of Christ. Please join us if you live nearby!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day

May flowers always line your path and sunshine light your day.
May songbirds serenade you every step along the way.
May a rainbow run beside you in a sky that's always blue.
And may happiness fill your heart each day your whole life through.

-- Irish Blessing

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Bubblegum Blow-Out Fun and Favors


Thank you for joining me for daughter Emma's 5th birthday celebration, a bubblegum blow-out that fit her sweet, bubbly personality perfectly. Pop over to these posts for all things bubblegum:
Today's post wraps up the bubblegum party series with fun activities and favors. 

In honor of her 5th birthday, Emma chose five favorite songs for her favor CD, "Emma's Bubblegum Pop." Designer extraordinaire Katy Larson designed four different CD covers in our color scheme of pink, green, yellow and blue with Emma's silhouette on the front. We played the CD during a game of musical chairs, then let each girl take a copy home.

We made the most of the chairs we rented for the party, carrying them outside for musical chairs, then back inside for cake.

One of the party graphics Katy designed was a vintage gumball machine full of colorful gumballs. She also made this empty version, perfect for enlarging for a rousing game of "Pin the Gumball on the Machine." I bought a package of round neon stickers from the office supply section of Wal-Mart, which worked perfectly as gumballs for our nostalgic game.

Too soon it was time for our guests to leave, but we sent them home with a few party treats.

Along with a party CD, each girl received a penny candy jar of gumballs, a swirl pop and a bottle of bubbles.

Find these bubble bottles -- three to a pack -- at Dollar Tree.

We enjoyed unseasonably warm temperatures the day of Emma's party, and many of the girls enjoyed blowing bubbles in the springlike weather. Gracie is one of our favorite bubbly friends to giggle with.

These swirl pops -- found on clearance at Wal-Mart -- matched our color scheme and vintage candy shoppe theme perfectly. Clustered in vases of gumballs on the buffet, they looked so happy and bright.

I searched high and low for penny candy jars and found the best price at David's Bridal. These little jars are cute, but they are tiny! Each one holds only 10 or 11 standard-size gumballs. I did not have time to embellish the jars before the party, but they looked cute clustered in a pretty pink metal pail.

Speaking of cute and tiny, here are a few pictures of the Birthday Girl:

Wish upon a bubble ... and your birthday dreams might just come true!

Our friends newlyweds Neil and Haley Scott joined us for the afternoon, and Emma loved blowing bubbles with them as the party wound down. She was so cute jumping into the air, trying so hard to blow bubbles into Mr. Neil's face. He was a good sport to get down on her level to bear the the full force of a bubble assault.

(Don't you wonder how many people might stumble onto A Little Loveliness after googling "bubble assault"? That thought makes me giggle.)

Of course, giggles are never in short supply when this little cutie is around.

Happy Birthday, My Sweet, Bubbly Girl!

“A smile starts on the lips, A grin spreads to the eyes, A chuckle comes from the belly; But a good laugh bursts forth from the soul, Overflows, and bubbles all around.” -- Carolyn Birmingham

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