Friday, April 21, 2017

New Easter Adventures

This year ushered in new Easter traditions for our family. Carson is a senior in high school, so over the weekend we traveled to a prospective college, Harding University in Searcy, Ark. Although I had heard great things about the school, this was my first visit to campus. It is quite a drive from our home in Birmingham, and I must admit that as the miles passed I was starting to have my doubts about whether I could handle the distance. But when we arrived for Bison Days ...

The gracious welcome we received quickly put my mind at ease. Chapel was our first event of the day, and it was a blessing to sing with thousands of young people and to hear an encouraging message. Daily chapel is one of the things I miss about my college experience!

 Students come from all fifty states and many countries around the world, and the sense of community here is clearly evident. There is a thriving campus life at Harding, and it warms my heart to look ahead to all the special times that await Carson.

Joe and I met at Lipscomb University many years ago and spent our share of evenings getting to know each other on a swing, so finding this tranquil spot brought back many memories.We took some pictures around campus together Sunday morning, and I captured many images of spring splendor throughout the weekend.

Happy Easter from Emma, Christian and Mary Ashley!

Seersucker is one of my favorite warm-weather fabrics, and the girls and I were ready for the holiday in custom dresses from Rysa Ruth Designs. I highly recommend this Etsy seller for her superb workmanship and quick turnaround.

Carson stayed on campus, and we did not get to see him much during the weekend. As you can tell from the picture above, as we waited to connect with him on Sunday, we had lots of time for trying out different poses -- the sillier the better in Emma's book! Finally, here is our handsome senior.

Officially Harding Bound!

We are so excited for Carson!

And we look forward to our next visit to Harding University!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Emma's Rock-Climbing Birthday Party

"All of life is the exercise of risk." ~William Sloane Coffin

Longtime readers of A Little Loveliness may remember some of the sweet celebrations we have held in honor of daughter Emma's birthday. From welcoming princesses to our castle for a Cinderella tea party to evoking the charm of Paris at a French Patisserie Tea Party, we have made our share of beautiful memories over the years -- often during over-the-top, feminine fetes.

Well, at 11, this sweet and sassy girl wanted to go over the top again -- but with an action-packed party at a new climbing facility in town.

The Girl Rock Climbing Party Package from Jessica's Invites gave us everything we needed for planning an afternoon of adventure, including invitations, cupcake toppers, straw flags, bottle wrappers and more. I loved the pastel palette of the original designs, but Emma was able to customize the suite to her taste for more vivid hues. I must admit, the vibrant look of the invitation above certainly fits the look of our venue, High Point Climbing and Fitness in Birmingham. This state-of-the-art facility opened in December 2016, and Emma could not wait to visit.

Doesn't this kids area look like a blast? During parties, guests climb for two hours then have use of a party room for thirty minutes. Here are a few of the goodies we had ready for our birthday girl and her friends.

Since Emma does not like cake and could not think of a dessert she would like to serve, colorful candies seemed like the way to go. Tubes of Sixlets from the Easter section at Walmart offered a bit of chocolate in shades that matched our theme.

Emma's snack of choice was White Cheddar Cheese Smartfood Popcorn -- one of our favorite healthy indulgences of late! One party-size bag yields about eight 2-cup servings, which I scooped into clear party bags and tied with strands of curly ribbon.

Festive suckers from Walmart added swirls of color.

And sparkling waters were perfectly refreshing!

Emma has been taking gymnastics for the past year. Several of her gym pals joined us for the day, and I was impressed watching these little athletes in action. Above, Emma tackles the gray wall and two friends race up a brick facade.

This net was also a prime spot for racing. After exploring this area, several of the girls were eager to strive for loftier goals in an adult room.

Above, Emma reaches the pinnacle in the adult room!

This view from across the room offers a better perspective of this feat. Several of our party participants reached this peak of 55 feet! It made me a little dizzy just watching them climb so high, but I was happy to cheer them on to victory.

This year Emma's cup of tea looked a lot more like a sports bottle than a china cup, but it was fun watching her meet new challenges with an exuberant spirit. As always, I feel privileged to watch her grow and determined to support her every step of the way.

"To live will be an awfully big adventure." ~J.M. Barrie

Monday, February 6, 2017

February Loves

"Oh, if it be to choose and call thee mine, love, thou art every day my Valentine!" ~Thomas Hood

Oh, how my heart thrills to February, this most romantic month! Each year, I share a gathering of favorite gifts -- treasures for celebrating Valentine's Day or surprising a precious friend. Here are a few of the pink pretties that have captured my attention this winter. 1. Flowers are always a special treat, and these Kabloom Sweet Caroline Pink and White Roses with Vase will make a charming display. 2. Playful and flirty, this Crown & Ivy Ditto Dot Mix Scarf combines soft pink polka dots and raspberry pom pom trim -- a go-to accessory that is sure to remain a favorite through spring and summer. 3. Finding a signature scent adds a little pleasure to every day; sample Bath & Body Works Peony before it's gone! 4. The versatility of this Crown & Ivy Solid Cardigan in Pink Sky makes it a wardrobe staple. 5. Delivered to your door, Kabloom Shades of Pink Long-Stemmed Roses are ready to be slipped into a holiday arrangement. 6. The exquisite cookies on our cover give just a hint of the sweet surprises you'll find in the January/February 2017 issue of Victoria magazine. Nearly four years into my tenure, I still love my work and feel so blessed each day to sip tea; write about inspiring places and people; and collaborate with a talented team of creative women.

I hope you will savor the opportunity this month brings to cherish the ones we love and show them how much we care through acts of kindness and tokens of affection!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Lovely in Lavender: Mary Ashley's Birthday Dinner

"A daughter is a gift of love." ~ Unknown

Can you believe that my sweet little Mary Ashley is 13? We celebrated this milestone birthday with a special weekend brimming with all of her favorite things. Two of her best friends from our former hometown came up for a couple of days, and the girls picked right up where they left off. That's the best type of friendship -- and a gift we are glad to nurture. The girls joined us on a Friday night for pizza and frozen yogurt. Saturday, we began with a show choir competition, followed by Starbucks, Chipotle, manicures and a movie. Quite a start to her teenage years!

We culminated the evening with a family dinner at our home. Mary Ashley's favorite color inspired our tablescape, with accents of dried lavender.

Each place setting included place mats and napkins from Pier1, plates from HomeGoods, and ribbon and tags from Michaels.

Simple arrangements lined the table. To make these, slip a pillar candle into a vase and wrap a rubber band around the vase. Tuck varying lengths of lavender stems under the rubber band. Wrap the vase several times with twine, knot the twine, and trim the ends. Remove the rubber band, and adjust stems as needed.

Posies of roses added softness.

For Mary Ashley's birthday menu, we enjoyed Rosemary Chicken, green beans, mashed potatoes, fruit salad and croissants.

And the birthday girl's favorite cake! In fact, she loves chocolate so much, she would not let me add anything to the top for fear that some frosting might be lost in removing the decorations.

A Pier1 heart-shaped wreath tied to Mary Ashley's chair now hangs on the door of her room -- a sweet memento of turning 13 among the people who love her most.

"A daughter may outgrow your lap, but she will never outgrow your heart." ~Unknown

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year!

For tips on creating a snowy candlescape to light your New Year, see this post. We are luxuriating in rest, relaxation and family togetherness -- savoring the last couple of days of our holiday break. The time has gone too quickly, but the next few months promise exciting events, so we have much to anticipate. 

Wishing you and yours a blessed and peaceful 2017!

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