Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Barbie Doll Cake

I made this Barbie doll cake over the weekend for the daughter of a friend.

The bodice of her dress was piped using a star tip. Tiny ruffles, leaves and  candy beads added the delicate embellishment. (And our 100 degree Alabama heat made this an off-the-shoulder dress. Let's just say that taking the cake outside for photos made a few alterations necessary.)

I covered the skirt in varying sizes of roses, piped easily with a large star tip. Little ruffles peeked out from the hem of the dress; leaves and candy beads added the final details.

Here she is, all dressed for the party and ready to make a little girl smile.

"Believing hear, what you deserve to hear:
Your birthday as my own to me is dear...
But yours gives most; for mine did only lend
me to the world; yours gave to me a friend."

~ Martial

Monday, August 29, 2011

Back-to-School Sewing Tutorial Giveaway

Mary Ashley and Emma went back to school this year in dresses made especially for the first day.


This ruffled neckline dress pattern from Etsy designer Whimsy Couture looks cute in this Keepsake Calico print, Apples + Pears, with pink polka dot trim. Seeing the girls dressed up for school -- Emma starting kindergarten and Mary Ashley now a second-grader -- I reflect on how quickly they have grown.

Perhaps I was so drawn to the Apples + Pears fabric because I remember them wearing these ruffled pants to preschool. At 2 and 4, they were the best of friends.

Sunny fall days were perfect for picnicking in the park with my sweet girls.

I am thankful that at 7 and 5, Mary Ashley and Emma are still as sweet as can be ...

And still the best of friends.

Whimsy Couture has graciously offered a back-to-school giveaway: one sewing tutorial of your choice from Whimsy Couture. To enter, leave a separate comment for each entry you choose:

(1) Friend Whimsy Couture on facebook here.
(2) Sign up for e-mail updates at the Whimsy Couture blog.
(3) Follow A Little Loveliness on Networked Blogs here.
(4) Like A Little Loveliness Blog on facebook here.

I will announce the winner next week. Along with many of our friends in the path of Hurricane Irene, Whimsy Couture has lost electricity. Our prayers are with all who have been affected by the storms, as well as our students, teachers and administrators heading back to school.

"The larger the island of knowledge, the longer the shoreline of wonder." ~ Ralph W. Sockman

Friday, August 26, 2011

School Day Giggles


Things to Dough
Seven-year-old Mary Ashley burst through the door yesterday after school to report that she could not believe what she overheard at school. Some of her second-grade classmates actually said they do not like to play with Play-Doh anymore. Shocked at this revelation, Mary Ashley said she asked in disbelief, "You don't even like to play with [dowch]?"
"Douch?" I asked.
"You know, that stuff you gave to your VBS class."
(That would be dough.)

The New Classics
As a little boy, Carson loved books. At 1, I can remember him toddling into my bedroom first thing in the morning with a stack of books. And with just the two of us at home, we could snuggle up in our pajamas and read 20 books before breakfast.
With so much one-on-one reading time in his younger years, it surprises me that Carson's enthusiasm for reading waned as he got older. By fourth grade, it seemed I nearly had to push his nose into a book.
But finally, last year in sixth grade he discovered a series of classic books that he couldn't put down. "Mom!" he exclaimed proudly. "I read a book that was so good! It is really old, but maybe you have hear of it. It's called Gilligan's Travels."

Bath Time Bobbles
School nights almost always include bath time. Awhile back Emma inquired about a loofah I had tucked into a basket beside our tub. I explained that the rough texture sloughs off dead skin cells, so grown-ups sometimes use a loofah to freshen their skin when they bathe. She eyed it with interest but didn't say anything. A few weeks later I left her soaking in the tub for a few minutes. When I returned to bathe her, she pointed to the loofah and whispered, "Mommy, I used that, but it didn't work. I waited, but it didn't make me grow any new skin."

Justice Served
A new school year means another round of competitions for Joe as Director of Trial Advocacy for Faulkner Law. During his rigorous travel schedule, he can't help but remember taking son Christian on one of his trips years ago. Just 3 years old at the time, Christian was remarkably patient through lengthy coaches meetings, team practices and dinners out. Joe was so proud of his big boy and marvelled at his patience throughout the weekend. Father and son sat quietly together on a bench outside the courtroom during a trial, until finally Christian broke the silence: "Daddy, how much longer are we going to be in time out?"

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sweet Potato Chip Dip

Fall football Saturdays and barbecue go hand in hand. One of our favorite weekend menus includes pulled pork barbecue sandwiches with Asian slaw, fresh fruit and sweet potato chips with dip.

Have you tried Terra Exotic Vegetable chips? They are so delicious, and the web site boasts a full serving of vegetables in each serving. (Find special offers here.) My favorite flavors are Original and Sweet Potato (pictured above). With their autumnal colors and unique flavors, Terra chips would be perfect for munching while tailgating with friends.


I thought the sweet potato chips could use a unique dip, and I have been playing with ingredients to develop a recipe that balances sweet and savory. Guests have given it cheers so far, and I hope you will, too.

Sweet Potato Chip Dip
Try this dip chilled, or serve it at room temperature.
8-ounce container whipped cream cheese
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
3 teaspoons soy sauce
4-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained
4 green onions, chopped
Mix together cream cheese, mayonnaise and soy sauce. Stir in pineapple and green onion, reserving a little green onion to sprinkle on top before serving. Chill for a few hours, then serve with sweet potato chips.

Congratulations to Debbi, who won last week's giveaway, a Lilly Pulitzer Pocket Agenda. If you didn't win, find this adorable planner here.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Summer's Sunset: Re-Post

I wrote this post two years ago when Mary Ashley started kindergarten. It sums up the emotions I have felt each time one of my children has started school, so I  share it again now that Emma's kindergarten journey has begun.

This picture of Mary Ashley, taken as the sun set on our family's recent beach vacation, makes my heart ache today. I remember so well how I felt that evening as we lingered on the beach. Knowing that our carefree, unhurried days were drawing quickly to a close, I pushed my feet into the sand, determined to soak up every last moment of summer sunshine. I sat on the beach for hours, watching the brilliant blue sky soften as the sun slid from view, leaving streaks of orange and purple in its path.

In the sunset's warm glow, the children gathered shells and built sand castles. Mary Ashley walked along the water's edge, dipping her toes into the surf and giggling as the foam lapped about her feet. I snapped this picture just before Mary Ashley turned and ran back down the beach to me. In that moment, I was struck by the beauty of her silhouette bathed in golden light.

Yet waves of emotion wash over me today as I look at this picture with tear-dimmed eyes. As the sun sets on Mary Ashley's preschool days, I find myself digging my heels in, wanting to catch the sands that slip so quickly through the hourglass. As she takes her first steps toward independence today on her first day of kindergarten, I put on a brave front. We talk about all the fun she will have in school as I fasten little apple buttons, and I smile as I tie red ribbons on the end of her braids. But hot tears bubble beneath the surface, and I know they will spill over as soon as she steps out of sight.

Looking at her picture now, I want to rush to her side, calling, "Come back! Come back! Please, don't grow up. Just stay here and be my little girl forever."

And yet I know she must grow. Time will not wait. And deep, deep down, I know that she is ready. She giggles as she dips her toes into kindergarten today, excited to embark on this new adventure.

That last night on the beach, I lingered long past sunset. The orange and purple sky deepened, and darkness seeped in -- moonlight casting a soft glow across the water as a million tiny stars twinkled overhead. And as much as I had longed to hold on to the fullness of the day, I recognized the beauty of the night. The cool of the evening brought tranquillity as the crowded beach cleared. Voices faded, and I could hear the gentle waves roll across the sea.

Today finds me quiet, too, as memories of my sun-kissed days with Mary Ashley roll through my mind. And I am so thankful. Because although the hush of evening allows us to ponder the past, it also reminds us that a new day dawns -- with the promise of new joys that await discovery.

So this afternoon when Mary Ashley runs into my arms after her very first day of kindergarten, I will smile, struck by the beauty of my child bathed in the golden glow of youth -- the promise of her future sparkling in her eyes. And I will thank God again for the privilege of being a mother, so blessed to share this journey with her little hand in mine.

"The setting sun, and music at the close, As the last taste of sweets, is sweetest last, Writ in remembrance more than things long past." -- William Shakespeare

Monday, August 22, 2011

My Baby of Babies on Her First Day of Kindergarten

"The simple lack of her is more to me than others' presence." ~ Edward Thomas

Friday, August 19, 2011

Lilly Pulitzer End-of-Summer Party

I recently invited my "beach girls" for an end-of-summer party. I had been wanting to have everyone over for a while, and we barely slipped this girls night in before school started.

I literally spent hours browsing the Lilly Pulitzer store in Hilton Head, S.C., and a few items I picked up there inspired our Life, Lilly & the Pursuit of Summer theme. (Step into summer on the Lilly Pulitzer site here.)

Aren't these shift note cards precious? Find them here. I thought these would make sweet invitations.  

With signature Lilly prints peeking through the cut-outs, these tri-fold note cards are adorable. I must admit, in my vacation state of mind, I was a little lax in getting the invitations out. In fact, a couple of guests received their formal invitation at the party. Maybe they will serve as keepsakes anyway ... .

Joe and the boys have an annual summer tradition of spending a night in Atlanta to go to Six Flags, so we planned our girls night during their trip. A few of the beach girls have daughters, so we invited them to join us for food, fun and flip-flops.

I saved the gumball vases I used for daughter Emma's bubblegum blow-out earlier this year. Water damaged the gumballs in one vase, but I was able to use the other for our summer party. Filled with lime green, pink and yellow flowers, this whimsical arrangement fit our Lilly theme perfectly.

Here is a view of our table, set for the party in pink and green.

Besides wrapping up party favors for all the guests, a roll of Lilly Pulitzer gift wrap was perfect for adding accents of color. Shown above, lined scalloped name tags were tied to our glasses. That's one of my favorite party tricks: Beverage tags make cute place cards and keep drinks separated. (You don't want to wonder whose pink lemonade is whose throughout the evening!) 

Here is a close-up of our place setting. These wavy plastic plates from Party City are so cute I will definitely use them again. (Find the bright pink dinner plates here and the smaller lime green dessert plates here -- buy one get one free at the time I am posting.) Place mats, Dollar Tree. Napkins: Pink, Wal-Mart; green, HomeGoods; paisley, Party City.

Our table centerpiece was easy peasy limey squeezy with an apothecary jar filled with fresh limes.

For the Love of Lilly Menu

Shrimp Tacos
Party Ham Rolls
Tropical Fruit with Cream Cheese Fruit Dip
Corn Dip with Corn Chips
Pink Lemonade and Key Lime Tarts
Pink Lemonade


Miniature ice box pies in pink and green fit our color scheme and summertime menu. The day before the party, 9-year-old Christian worked at one end of the counter to mix up the green limeade filling, and 7-year-old Mary Ashley worked at the other end to mix up the pink lemonade filling. One recipe of each flavor yielded enough filling for 18 mini-pies and four more regular pies. Find the ice box pie recipe here and the shrimp tacos here.

Corn Dip
My friend Nia brought this dip, a delicious recipe from our church cookbook.

2 cans Mexican corn, drained
2 to 4 green onions, chopped
Chopped jalepenos, to taste
2 cups shredded cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream

Mix together and serve with chips.

I couldn't wait for the girls to open their party favors ...

Lilly Pulitzer 2011-2012 Pocket Agenda Planners

These adorable planners are perfect for my beach girls -- all of whom are busy moms or working women when they are not giggly beach babes for one weekend a year. These planners begin with August 2011 and go through December 2012. I am hoping the cute stickers and colorful layouts of their Lilly planners will help my beach girls carry a little bit of summer through the rest of the year.

Find Lilly pocket agendas here in our pink and green floral pattern, Luscious; royal blue sailboat pattern, Docksider; navy and fuchsia floral, Navy Bloomers; and turquoise, lime and pink Nice to See You. Our older daughters unwrapped Lilly Pulitzer A Day in the Life Journals, and the younger took home Lilly memo pads.

Hmmmm ... what is this?

Did you leave your new pocket planner behind? It seems I have an extra just waiting to be filled with happy occasions.

Leave a comment below to enter my giveaway for a Lilly Pulitzer 2011-2012 Pocket Agenda Planner,  and I will announce the winner next week.

Long live Lilly, and long love summer!
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