Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Little Pitcher of Joy

"The flowers of late winter and early spring occupy places in our hearts well out of proportion to their size." -- Gertrude S. Wister

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Bookmarked: A Cup of Comfort for Writers

I recently discovered A Cup of Comfort for Writers, edited by Colleen Sell. What a find! Seasoned and aspiring writers alike will enjoy drinking from this cup. Here are a few passages that I have bookmarked.

"I write because I am standing at an intersection in my life and your life, and, while you hurry past, I am recording the world around both of us. I am taking note of everything, and I want to hold it up to you, mirrorlike, so you can see what I see." -- Camille Moffatt

"Plato said, 'the life which is unexamined is not worth living.' But I don't think he meant examining should take the place of living. I don't think he meant we should be so busy mining our adventures for meaning that we don't have time to live them. ... I know that life and art can mix, enriching both. But the danger -- the danger I recognized when I saw my son hunched over a notebook instead of marvelling at the landscape -- is that art can overpower life. It can, for a long moment, actually replace the experience of living." -- Lauren Kessler

"I thought about what my husband had said, and realized I had fallen into the same trap so many aspiring writers do; I was spending too much time aspiring to write and very little time actually writing. Even though I finally had time to pursue my dream, I was still making it a low priority in my life. I was talking the talk, but wasn't writing the write." -- Brenda Kezar

Purchase Cup of Comfort for Writers: Inspirational Stories That Celebrate the Literary Life here.

This title has introduced me to this inspirational series of books. Find your own Cup of Comfort here -- with inspirational stories, upcoming events, submission guidelines and editor Colleen Sell's blog.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Hydrangeas at the Door

These silk hydrangeas add soft color to our front door, reminding me that spring will be here soon!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Slumber Party Notes

Sleepover Munchies: Friday night we kicked off Mary Ashley's slumber party with supper. Her first menu suggestion was chicken noodle soup and black eyed peas, but that didn't give me a lot to work with. So we went with her second choice: poppy seed chicken with rice, green beans, fruit salad, rolls, cupcakes and spumoni ice cream. Yum!

Saturday morning we enjoyed a simple breakfast menu of bacon and pancakes with strawberries and whipped cream. Lemon-slush punch was a special treat for the little girls. My sweet friend Lori Adkins shared this refreshing recipe with me. She served it at her wedding to rave reviews. I made it for our New Year's Day brunch, and set aside a bag of the frozen mix to pull out for the slumber party.

Lemon-Slush Punch
12 ounces frozen orange juice concentrate
12 ounces frozen lemonade
46 ounces unsweetened pineapple juice
9 cups warm water
2 1/2 cups sugar
28 ounces ginger ale
Mix sugar and water until dissolved. Add juices. Freeze in 1 or 2 gallon freezer bags. Take out 3 hours before serving to thaw. Put in punch bowl and add ginger ale (cold if possible). Note: This should be slushy. A dull knife may be needed to chop it up some.

Slumber Party Fun. Joe's sister gave the girls the game Hullabaloo for Christmas, and they have really enjoyed it. The girls at the party enjoyed playing several rounds, although you do have to keep the group quiet in order to hear the directions. The biggest hit of the party was the gift at the top of Mary Ashley's wish list: Bendaroos! The girls enjoyed covering our walls with all kinds of artistic creations, and my boys have made some impressive works of art in the days since.

Sleepy Head Favors: Earlier this week, I shared photos of the pajamas I made for the guests at our sleepover. I was so proud of the girls! They were so sweet and well-mannered. As a reward for doing so well at their first slumber party, as the girls left we let them choose a shimmering body mist spray. I found these at JC Penney. I loved the colors, and they coordinated perfectly with our cupcake theme.

From start to finish, Mary Ashley's slumber party was a dream come true -- much like the Birthday Girl herself!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Slumber Party Table

Inspired by Hostess with the Mostess and bloggy friend Donna at Party Wishes, I knew months ago that I wanted to transform our dining room into a bedroom for Mary Ashley's slumber party.

I turned our dining room table toward the wall so I could prop pillows from Mary Ashley's bed against the mirror. Then I topped the bed with extra linens, including a pale blue matelasse coverlet I had in the closet. Instead of using a chair at the end of the table, we slid an ottoman to the foot of the bed.

Here is the table all set up for dinner. Each girl found a gift at her place -- coordinating pajamas I made for all the girls.

Pretty details added to our dreamy tablescape: Mary Ashley's favorite Build-a-Bear friend all dressed for bed; pink cupcakes decorated to match the girls' pajamas; a lime green teapot filled with lush pink roses; and a few favorite bedtime stories stacked on a blanket at the end of the bed (and known only to me, these books represent past themes we have used for Mary Ashley's birthday parties).

This table was a cozy spot for all the girls to gather for supper Friday night, although it has confused 3-year-old Emma, who keeps asking if she can sleep on that bed!

Dream Girls

Here are the little girls who spent the night with us Friday for Mary Ashley's first slumber party. They were all so precious!

Before we ate, I let them open their presents -- coordinating pajamas! They all changed into their PJs, and all night I felt like I had seven sweet little daughters all dressed alike.

With her closest friends gathered near to celebrate her birthday, what else could Mary Ashley wish for?

Here are our sleepy heads Saturday morning, still giggling after a late night! Since this was the first sleepover with friends for all the little girls, I thought a few might get homesick during the night and want to go home. Little did I know, the tears would come Saturday morning when the party was over and it was time to go home!

We hope they will all come again soon for another slumber party!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Cupcake Compromise

This year instead of making a birthday cake for daughter Mary Ashley, I planned to make cupcakes to coordinate with the girls' pajamas -- enough to share with her kindergarten class and slumber party guests. But when we stopped by the grocery store last week to pick up a few ingredients, Mary Ashley burst into tears.
"Why do you have to make my cupcakes?" she choked out between sobs. "Why can't we just buy them like everybody else?" It surprised me how hard I took this. I honestly felt like I had been stabbed in the heart. I was on the verge of tears throughout our shopping trip, and had to apologize to Mary Ashley when we got home for being short-tempered with her .

We came to a cupcake compromise: store-bought for school and homemade for home. Mary Ashley was excited to pick out chocolate cupcakes from the Wal-Mart bakery for her class, and at home she was eager to help me bake cupcakes -- even licking the beaters just like always. With fluffy pink icing and sprinkles, the cupcakes I decorated coordinated with the cupcake appliques on the girls' PJs.
Friends have encouraged me that Mary Ashley will appreciate my efforts to make things for her when she is older, and I took their words to heart.
I guess she just needed the extra maturity of turning 6. After she blew out her candles, I slipped into the kitchen to do some cleaning. One of the mommies who joined us for dinner laughed as she repeated what she overheard Mary Ashley say to the other guests:

"See, I told you these would be much better than the ones we had at school!"

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Sweet Dreams Pajamas

Mary Ashley's slumber party over the weekend was a big milestone for us and the little girls who joined us for the weekend. I wanted to do something special to initiate the girls into this fun girlhood tradition, so I decided to make pajamas for them -- eight pairs in all!

I loved the idea of making something they could wear during the party. And I hope they will remember fondly their time at our house when they wear them again -- maybe even to their next slumber party!

For the pajama pants, I used McCall's pattern 3906, shortening the length to include coordinating ruffles. (I could save a lot of time sewing if I didn't love ruffles so much!) I found the pink swirl flannel at Hancock Fabrics. The turquoise micro-check used for the ruffles and bow at the waist came from local sewing shop Beth's Heirloom Sewing. For the tops, I used long-sleeve tees from Target. These super-soft shirts can be worn with pajama pants or to school. I embroidered the shirts with different cupcake appliques from Bunnycup Embroidery. Of course, the Birthday Girl got the cupcake with a candle!

Bring on the sweet dreams!

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Dreamiest Slumber Party Invitation Ever!

I have been anticipating Mary Ashley's birthday party for months, so excited to host our first girls slumber party! Our theme inspired this sweet little bed invitation, which I made using scraps of fabric leftover from sewing projects for the girls. The little green pillow folds down to reveal party details, including drop-off and pick-up times.

Mary Ashley Is Having a Slumber Party
And We're Dreaming That You'll Come!

This is one of my favorite invitations ever, and I think it would make a great birthday card, as well -- especially when you see the fun surprise I tucked inside! Find the card-making directions below, or keep scrolling to see the surprise.

Directions. To make this 5"-x-7" invitation, start with a blank folded card. Adhere a rectangle of fabric to the front of the card with a fusible web like Heat'n'Bond. This will be the fitted sheet. Next, sew a scalloped edge along a strip of fabric to make the bed's top sheet. Cut fabric away from the scalloped edge. Iron this strip of fabric, pressing the edge under to make a crease. Glue the unfinished edge of the top sheet to the back of a scrap of chenille fabric, folding the scalloped edge over the front to give the look of a top sheet folded over a coverlet. Pull the coverlet and top sheet around to the back of the card, and hot glue the edges around the sides and bottom of the invitation. To make the pillow, secure a monogrammed scrap of fabric to the front of a small rectangular card with fusible web, and use a glue stick to fit a little paper inside the card with party details. Hot glue the pillow card to the top of the invitation. Cut a coordinating piece of scrapbook paper, and glue it to the back of the card to cover the raw edges of fabric. The invitation is complete!

My original plan was to tuck a little card into the pocket made from the invitation's coverlet, or maybe a photo of Mary Ashley. But then I discovered the perfect idea ... .

A Custom Paper Doll!

I was so tickled to find someone on Etsy who makes custom paper dolls! Upon ordering, simply e-mail a photo of your little girl to SandyFordDesigns, and Sandy will e-mail back digital images of a personalized paper doll and five sets of clothes. You can re-size the images as needed and print as many as you like. Sandy was prompt and easy to work with. She even added the top and shorts to the paper doll at no extra charge. I really hope she will get lots of business because she charges very little for a truly special keepsake. (Wouldn't this be a great surprise to e-mail to a special little girl?)

And, look! Those pink pajamas are a perfect fit for our slumber party theme!

I cut out a Mary Ashley paper doll for each invitation and printed the clothes on extra cards. Across the bottom of one of the cards, I added "Help Mary Ashley get dressed for the party!" The paper doll slips easily into bed, and extra clothing can be stored in the pocket that resulted when I wrapped the coverlet around to the back of the card.

Shown here together, paper doll, clothes and card make a perfect invitation and play set all in one!

Wake up to more dreamy slumber party ideas all week!

I'm linking up with Get Your Craft On at Today's Creative Blog

And DIY Day at Soft Place to Land

Friday, January 15, 2010

Little Bit Cute

Emma and Mary Ashley have been enjoying the beanies Aunt Shana made them for Christmas, and now you can enjoy her creations, too! Through Valentine's Day, blog readers can get 10 percent off at her new Etsy shop, Little Bit Designs by mentioning "littleloveliness" in your convo. Congratulations to Becky Bell, who has won the yellow beanie!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mary Ashley!

Happy Birthday, Sweet Girl!

We will be celebrating Mary Ashley's birthday this weekend, and I cannot wait to share all the fun with you next week! We are hosting our first slumber party, and I think I am more excited about it than the girls.

The Little Bit Designs giveaway winner will be announced tomorrow! See Tuesday's post to enter.

Photo by Nathan Prichard; Edited by Katy Larson

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Little Bit Giveaway

Well, after yesterday's goof, I think you need a real giveaway! I am excited to announce the opening of my sister-in-law Shana's Etsy shop, Little Bit Designs. Shana makes trendy accessories for the modern girl, with custom-made hair bows, headbands and beanies that are sure to please.

For a limited time, get 10 percent off your Little Bit Designs purchase by mentioning "alittleloveliness" in your convo. And after you visit the shop, leave a comment below telling me your favorite item and you will be entered to win a fresh yellow beanie accented with a daisy (sized to fit little girls ages 1 to 8).

The winner will be announced Friday!

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