Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Charmingly Romantic Bookmarks

"To sit alone in the lamplight with a book spread out before you, and hold intimate converse with men of unseen generations - such is a pleasure beyond compare." ~ Kenko Yoshida

Happy Leap Day!

I am hoping this extra day yields a little time for diving into a good book.

With February reading in mind, I made several Valentine bookmarks with pink velvet ribbon and scraps of lace trim.

Heart-shaped silver charms and lockets, pink beads and framed clip-art of a rose make these bookmarks perfect for tucking into a favorite love story.

Find instructions for making your own romantic bookmarks here.

Several of these bookmarks are heading to our teachers, who are busy celebrating Dr. Seuss' birthday with a full week of reading-themed activities.

"In reading, a lonely quiet concert is given to our minds; all our mental faculties will be present in this symphonic exaltation." ~ Stéphane Mallarmé

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Shabby Alphabet Shirts

February may be on the way out, but I'm declaring these Valentine shirts "in" as long as we have weather cool enough to wear them.

(Long-sleeved tees, Target; Shabby Valentine Alphabet Applique, Planet Applique)

"Valentine hearts beat more passionately than everyday hearts." ~ Anonymous

Monday, February 27, 2012

Wonder-Full Party Favors

The highlight of our Valentine's celebration this year was enjoying an Alice in Wonderland tea party at the home of our sweet friend Nancy Itson. Nancy invited several little girls from our congregation to go through the looking glass for a tea party with Alice, the Mad Hatter and the Queen of Hearts. Last week I shared Nancy's invitation, party decor, menu and party activities. And today I have one final post to share the sweet party favors Nancy prepared for all the girls.

Nancy sewed sweet little sachets for each girl and placed a tea bag inside. She even covered the tag with a valentine sentiment.

The tea bag holders looked so sweet nestled in a pierced white teacup with the tag dangling over the edge. The handle of the teacup urges "Drink Me."

And what a charming surprise: a silver necklace with heart and key pendants.

Nancy put paper shreds in the bottom of each teacup to give a soft cushion for the tea bags and necklaces. She also included candy and little stuffed fabric mushrooms (not pictured).

Mary Ashley was eager to collect her place card, tags and other printables. I think she wanted to remember every detail of the party!

This tea party is written on our hearts, just like our gracious hostess, Nancy. We wanted to thank her for the love she poured into the tea party, so the girls and I prepared a little gift to show our appreciation.

It means a lot to me that Nancy, whose children are grown, has a heart for the children of our congregation. She says she remembers how much her children enjoyed going to parties their beloved Bible teacher planned, and now Nancy feels this is her opportunity to pay it forward. One day Nancy will be a grandmother, so the girls and I bought a storybook that she can share with her future grandchildren. And I fashioned a bookmark for her in keeping with our theme using a scrap of trim from the party. I found the watch pendant at Michaels and finished off the back with a group photo from the party. I hope these little tokens will remind Nancy how blessed we are by her gracious sense of welcome.

I hope you have enjoyed visiting Wonderland as much as I have! With two more days left in February, I still have a little more Valentine love to share. So stop in again soon!

"The time has come, my little friends, to talk of other things/ Of shoes and ships and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings/ And why the sea is boiling hot, and whether pigs have wigs/ Calloo, Callay, come run away/ With the cabbages and kings." ~  Alice in Wonderland

Friday, February 24, 2012

When in Wonderland: Activities & Crafts

Sweet friend Nancy Itson hosted several little girls from our church for a Valentine tea party recently and planned her menu and decor around Alice in Wonderland. After sitting down to a delicious tea party with the Mad Hatter, the Queen of Hearts and Alice, the girls were ready to move into the den for activities.

Queen of Hearts: Now,where do you come from?
Alice: Well, I'm trying to find my way home  ... .
Queen of Hearts: Your way? All ways are my ways!
Alice: Yes, I know, but I was just thinking ... .
Queen of Hearts: Curtsy while you're thinking. It saves time.
Alice: [curtsying] Yes, Your Majesty, but I wanted to ask you ...
Queen of Hearts: I'll ask the questions! Do you plan croquet?
Alice: Why, yes, Your Majesty.
Queen of Hearts: Then let the games begin!

Nancy planned to take the girls outside for a game of croquet, but a burst of winter weather kept us inside for the afternoon. Not to worry, though. Our creative hostess had several craft projects to delight her little guests. Above, Mary Ashley is happy to claim a spot at the craft table.

An avid crafter and excellent seamstress, Nancy has a treasure trove of ribbons, trims, beads, buttons and stickers. The girls gathered around Nancy's table enjoyed choosing their favorite fancies to decorate journals. 

To fit with our theme, Nancy provided tags for the journals that proclaim "Write in Me." It was so sweet to see little hands at work. And how special for these little girls to have a place to record their thoughts and dreams.

After decorating journals, the girls made flower pens. To make one, hold a silk floral stem to the end of the pen and wrap it tightly with floral tape. When the pen is wrapped, trim the floral tape and finish off the pen with a ribbon bow tied under the bloom. Above, the Red Queen seems pleased to work with a pink daisy.

Finally, the girls used vintage clip art to decorate Valentine cards for someone special. They poured their hearts into this activity!

Queen of Hearts: And who is this?
King of Hearts: Let me see, my dear. It's certainly not a heart. Do you suppose it's a club?

What a blessing our afternoon tea party was to all these little girls. To be welcomed around the table with friends, to sit down to a lovely afternoon tea, to giggle and play, to use their imaginations in creative projects, to create memories to last a lifetime.

Most of all, to belong.

Nancy sent the girls home with a heart full of memories -- along with journals, pens and Valentines. But this was not all. I'll be back Monday to share party favors from Wonderland, along with a little gift to thank our gracious hostess. 

"When you are describing,
A shape, or sound, or tint;
Don't state the matter plainly,
But put it in a hint;
And learn to look at all things,
With a sort of mental squint."
~ Lewis Carroll

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Wonderland Tea Party Menu

Guests at Nancy Itson's recent Alice in Wonderland themed Valentine Tea enjoyed a delicious assortment of sweet and savory treats.

Nancy poured her time into creating a special event for little girls from our congregation with handcrafted invitations, a lovely tablescape, clever activities and handmade favors. A simple menu helped make the tea party possible at the end of a busy workweek and was a hit with party guests.

Alice in Wonderland Valentine Tea Menu

Fresh-Baked Biscuits with Jam
Florentine and Lorraine Mini Quiches
Fresh Strawberries
White Chocolate Dipped Strawberries
Mini Eclairs
Valentine Cookies
Assorted Candies
Peach Tea & Raspberry Lemonade

Don't these treats look tempting?

Nancy dressed up Valentine cookies from a local bakery by dropping pairs into pretty cupcake liners.

When the girls had their fill of sweets, there were plenty more savories to nibble.

But they needed to save room for white cupcakes with cream cheese icing. (Cupcake liners from Michaels.)

There were lots of smiles around this Valentine table!

Nancy did not forget the adults at the party. We all raved about her delicious corn dip, served warm with tortilla chips. Nancy said this is one of her go-to recipes because it is easy to throw together but is always a crowd-pleaser.

Corn Dip

Hostess Nancy Itson multiplies this recipe to accommodate party crowds.

1 can of corn, drained
1 can of Rotel tomatoes, drained
1 8-ounce package cream cheese
1 stick of butter
Combine all ingredients in a crock pot and simmer on low for at least 2 hours. A full stick of butter results in a soupy consistency, so Nancy recommends using less for a thicker consistency for dipping. Serve warm with tortilla chips.

This is definitely a recipe I will keep in mind next time I am hosting a crowd. Nancy quadrupled her recipe for the Valentine party.

Iced peach tea, hot English Breakfast tea, and chilled raspberry lemonade all said "Drink Me" to guests who slipped through the looking glass to spend an afternoon with Nancy in Wonderland.

Still to come, Wonder-ful crafts and favors!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Valentine Tea in Wonderland

Alice: If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary-wise; what it is wouldn't be, and what it wouldn't be, it would. You see?

The Saturday before Valentine's Day, our dear friend Nancy Itson invited the girls to join her in Wonderland for a magical tea party.

Mad Hatter: Would you like a little more tea?
Alice: Well, I haven't had any yet, so I can't very well take more.
March Hare: Ah, you mean you can't very well take less.
Mad Hatter: Yes. You can always take more than nothing.

Upon their arrival at the Itsons' home, the girls found keys outside the door with a note instructing them to unlock the door to Wonderland. When they turned the key, they were greeted by the Mad Hatter himself.

White Rabbit: [singing] I'm late/ I'm late/ For a very important date./ No time to say "Hello, Goodbye."/ I'm late, I'm late, I'm late, I'm late.

Nancy's table was a visual feast, with so many beautiful details to behold. This was a royal affair, after all.

White Rabbit: Her Imperial Highness, Her Grace, Her Excellency, Her Royal Majesty, the Queen of Hearts! [crowd cheers]

Nancy found free printable "Eat Me" and "Drink Me" tags here.

Mad Hatter: Do you care for more tea?
Alice: Why, yes, I'm very fond of tea.
March Hare: If you don't care for tea, you could at least make polite conversation!

The tea table held many sweet treats, but the sweetest surprise was the last to drop in.

[Alice falls down the rabbit hole and her dress poofs up like a parachute]
Alice: Well, after this I should think nothing of falling down stairs.

Nancy does not hesitate to pull out her finest pieces when children come to call, and she believes they rise to the occasion. The treasured teapot above was a gift from an elderly friend.

Cheshire Cat: Oh, by the way, if you'd really like to know, he went that way.
Alice: Who did?
Cheshire Cat: The White Rabbit.
Alice: He did?
Cheshire Cat: Who did?
Alice: The White Rabbit.
Cheshire Cat: What rabbit?
Alice: But didn't you just say -- I mean -- Oh, dear.

"Drink Me," this glass encourages. But do you want peach tea or raspberry lemonade?

Daisy: What kind of garden do you come from?
Alice: Oh, I don't come from any garden.
Daisy: Do you suppose she is a wildflower?

The Queen of Hearts made a royal edict for fun, and the Mad Hatter kept all the girls laughing with his silly antics. I heard one little girl exclaim, "This is the best tea party ever!"

Doorknob: Read the directions and directly you will be directed in the right direction.

White rabbits, clocks, playing cards and whimsical elements brought the theme together.

Alice: Oh, pooh, I'm not afraid of you. Why, you're just a pack of cards.

This party gave Nancy a wonderful opportunity to mix several favorite patterns. (Clockwise from top left: (1) Libby glasses from Dollar Tree added sparkle to the table and mixed well with finer pieces; (2) This pair of teacups was my favorite vignette at the party (top cup, unmarked antique; bottom cup, Crown Potteries Co.); (3) The lacy white teapot is  from I. Godinger & Co.; (4) Nancy's husband, Dennis, bought this set of Spring Night by Keito china for their daughter, Haley, when she was about 10 years old; (5) The silver handled teapot is from Modern China Institute; (6) Haley was happy to lend her Spring Night luncheon plates and teacups to the occasion.) 

Alice: When I get home I shall write a book about this place ... If I ever do get home.

There is still more to come, so join me tomorrow to sample Nancy's tea party menu!

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