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Family | Clara's 16th Birthday

Wednesday, May 30

What do you do for a birthday cake...
when the birthday person doesn't like traditional cake?

You can do like I've done in the past...
and choose something like...
ice cream cake

But I needed something EXTRA special this year.
My oldest daughter was celebrating her SiXTEENTH birthday!!

I needed something to keep my mind off of feeling REALLY old AMAZiNG...
and boy did I find it...

Chocolate Chip Cookie IceBox Cake

I normally ask my kids what cake they want me to make for them...
but having spotted this cake on Pinterest about a month ago...
I never even posed the question to Clara...
I kept it a surprise...
knowing it would be the perfect "cake" to make for her!


the one who isn't a fan of traditional cake...
and the one who absolutely LOVES chocolate chip cookies...
This really couldn't have been more perfect.


My thirteen year old, Ema (short for Emalyn)...
the one that asked for a fruit salad for her birthday dessert this year...
and ended up with a "fruit cake" - in the literal sense (see it here)...
She helped me bake all of the cookies...
We assembled the cake together...
and then the following day, she helped me "whip" up the cream...
and create the chocolate curls which topped off the "cake"...


It's a GREAT recipe! (thanks Martha).
And despite my doubts about the cookies softening up for easy slicing...
it turned out to be a "piece of cake"...*wink*

Clara LOVED it...
(and the #16 sparklers that took the place of candles)
Happy Sweet Sixteen Clara...xoxo

Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe - Pen N' Paperflowers (I increased baking time to 16 minutes for a "crisp" cookie)
• Photography: Pen N' Paperflowers
• Sparkler Numbers: Publix

Don't look too hard at the mascarpone filling between the cookies...
it got whipped a bit longer than it should have. 
Not pretty when that happens. *frown*

The cake is seriously RiCH.
I really thought we'd all make pigs of ourselves...
and that the cake would be more than 1/2 gone by the time we got done with it.
Honestly...there wasn't one person who could finish the first piece...
(perhaps because the slices were SO tall)...
let alone go back for seconds.

The recipe calls for 96 cookies...
We only made 60 something.
So instead of creating each layer using 9 cookies + 2 in the middle, like the recipe suggested, 
we just cut it back to 7 cookies +1 in the middle and made the cake 8 layers high instead of 7.

Wondering if buying packaged cookies would work for all of you out there 
who don't have time to bake the cookies? If you try it...let me know!

Holiday | Happy Memorial Day

Monday, May 28

Sending out a heartfelt
to all of the service men and women who have:
• fought for our freedom...
• sacrificed in ways the rest of us will never understand
• served our country in order to defend our beliefs and values
• left their families behind for the greater good
• represented our nation through dedicated military service
• given the ultimate sacrifice - their life


And because I hold a special place in my heart for my grandfather
who was a P.O.W. in Ofuna, Japan during World War II
and also served in the Korean War...
take a peek at this video I found...
honoring World War II Veterans.
(I wish he was still here to experience this).

TEACH | All-Occasion Denim Pocket Banner (Part II)

Friday, May 25



When I told you the "Pocket Full of Posies" denim pocket banner was versatile...
I meant it.
By simply adding a splash of red and white to the denim pocket banner...
We're now ready to celebrate every patriotic holiday we have coming up...
and this could even be used at Christmas and Valentine's Day too!! LOVE!!!

Here's how to do it.
First, reference Part I of the "Denim Pocket Banner" tutorial right here.
Second, gather your supplies:

Pre-made Denim Pocket Banner (already strung together)
• Red Fabric (or ribbon of your choice - amount is dependent on the amount of pockets on your banner)
• White Fabric (or ribbon of your choice - amount is dependent on the amount of pockets on your banner)
• These Fiskars tools for cutting fabrics easily (or just your favorite sharp scissors)
• Scissors (for trimming the ends of the fabric after they are tied to your banner)

STEP ONE: Cut your fabric. (or ribbon)
Cut your fabrics into strips that are 1 inch wide and about 8 inches long.
The number of strips needed will be determined by the number of pockets you are using for your banner.
Count the number of pockets, add one to that number and you've got your total.
I used ten pockets therefore I needed 11 strips of both fabrics.


STEP TWO: Pick ONE fabric color - either the red or white- and cut the existing strips in half. 
By cutting one of the piles of strips in half, you will actually create a surplus for yourself to store away for use on a future project of your choice. (Keep reading to see how this works)


STEP THREE: Creative tying
You'll be tying the fabric strips at both ends of the banner and in between each pocket.
Place the longer strip of fabric, (right side facing down), underneath the twine.
Lay the smaller strip of fabric, (right side facing up), on top of the twine - creating an "x" with the two strips of fabric.
Working with the longer strip of fabric, grab both ends and creat a knot. (Like the first step in tying your shoes).
A 2nd knot is not needed and will make changing out the fabrics much easier for your next celebration/holiday.


For a more finished look, I used scissors to add an angle to each of the ends of the tied strips of fabric.

Notice how even though both strips of fabric started off at different lengths, they ended up just about the same size.

TIP: Use the technique above for all of your ribbon tying projects. 
You'll thank me for saving you tons of money because of  all of the extra ribbon, string or fabric you end up with.




Who's ready for Memorial Day?
And why bother taking it down when you are already set for 4th of July too!!
I LOVE when holiday decor items effortlessly and conveniently flow into the next celebration.

If you don't have a sharp blade on your rotary cutter...
Your fabric strips will end up looking like this...

You THiNK you cut nice clean strips of fabric...
but when you go to pull them apart...
...they are partially stuck together because my wimpy blade never cut completely through.
Good thing I have another one as back up...
Note to self...
pick up some fresh blades.

TEACH | All-Occasion Denim Pocket Banner (Part I)

Thursday, May 24

Remember the adorable Denim Pocket Banner I created for Ella's Pocket Full of Posies 3rd Birthday?
If you're like me and happen to love creating clever party decor for events that are
and versatile enough to continue to be used after the confetti and cupcakes are all gone...
then keep reading...


The tutorial I created to demonstrate how to make this Denim Pocket Banner...
was posted earlier this week on Hostess with the Mostess.
But if you happened to miss it...
You're in luck...

I'm posting it here as well to set you up for Part II...
a tutorial in which I share how easy it is to alter the look of the banner to suite any occasion.
So let's get going...

All-Occasion Denim Pocket Banner Tutorial (Part I)
Makes 1 Banner

– Recycled toddler jean back pockets (or a larger size, depending on your particular event and how you intend on displaying/using the finished banner)

– Twine, ribbon or string of your choice (for threading the pockets together & displaying the finished banner).

Crop-A-Dile II Tool (for easily punching holes through denim)

OR you can use a Leather Awl or other sharp object for piercing.

TIP: I went to my local thrift store to find some toddler jeans for this project. I wanted the finished banner to have a vintage feel to it, therefore, I paid close attention to the finish of the jeans as well as to the overall style of the back pockets when I selected the 8 pairs I purchased. (Scored them all for a grand total of under $2.00!)


1. Cut out the pockets. 
After cutting out the number of jean pockets you think you’ll need for your particular use...
you are ready to prep them for assembly.

TIP: You can use a really good pair of sharp scissors to cut out the entire denim pocket or you can use my preferred method of cutting fabrics using a rotary cutting tool, self-healing cutting mat and an acrylic ruler. (No. I don’t sew. At all. But I have had these Fiskars tools  for years and they make cutting fabrics a cinch).


2. Punch a hole into the upper corners of each denim pocket
I chose to place my holes just below the intersection of stitching on both sides of the pocket.



3. Assemble the banner. 
Once all of the pockets have been pierced/punched it’s time to string them all together.


Lay the pockets out in front of you to determine the order you’d like for them to be displayed, making sure to distance matching pockets away from one another. Measure your twine, (or other source of string), by using the length of the pockets you’ve just spread out in front of you. Be sure to add plenty of string to the length to account for hanging the banner once it’s finished. (Better to have too much string than not enough).

Starting with the first hole, push the twine down through the hole – feeding it from the front of the pocket and coming out the backside. Pull the string up through the second hole. Repeat with remaining pockets.


4. Hang the banner.  Tie both ends of the banner to a sturdy object. You may trim any excess twine or leave it hanging – depending on your preference for the finished look.

You may create several layers of Denim Pocket Banners like I did for the backdrop for this dessert table or use one long one for a specific focal point. This versatile banner can be be incorporated into a wide range of party themes including Americana, Rustic, Picnic, Fall, Summer, Western and more.


Countdown Calendar: for the Holidays
Birthday Banner: attach wording with mini clothespins to each pocket to spell out a name or sentiment)
Grab N’ Go Party Favor holder: Have little ones reach in and pull out their favors as a cute, interactive send off. (banner would need to be mounted to a wall or other flat structure so as to provide support and keep the pockets from shifting with the weight of the items added)
Mantle Display: Hang on your mantle and add different ribbons, fabrics or objects in or on the pockets to correspond with rotating holidays.
Wall Art: Hang in a child’s room/nursery.
Organizer: Provides a fun place for your little ones to put away art supplies or other small treasures.
Wedding Decor: This inexpensive banner could be used in a variety of ways at a wedding. (A unique seating card display, wrapped around tree trunks of a picnic-style wedding or even hung from the backs of chairs).

I'll be back with Part II of this tutorial - so stay tuned!

Photography: Pen N' Paperflowers
Paper Maché Flowers: Maisey's Daiseys

You've no idea how happy I get making simple little projects like this.
And as ridiculous as it sounds...
really pay attention to the back pockets you choose to use..
there are some UGLY ones out there that just wouldn't look as cute! *wink*

On another note...
I completely embarrassed myself at the gym yesterday.
I showed up to workout with a personal trainer for the first time...
I'd only eaten an apple (thinking I'd better not eat a lot otherwise I might get sick if he works me too hard).
I ended up having a really low blood sugar episode after the strenuous exercise.
I tried to leave the gym and just hurry and get home to eat something because I was starting to tremble...
but I realized I couldn't drive.
Had to go back in the gym...
I guess I looked rough when I walked back inside...
the next thing I know I was drinking free gatorade...
Someone was taking my pulse...
The nutritionist came over to talk to me about the importance of eating a healthy breakfast...
They called J...
who called my mom...
who came and bought me a sandwich...
and in about 20-25 minutes of regaining my composure...
I was able to drive home with Ella.

Good news?
I'm REALLY sore today.
Which means I probably won't be able to move tomorrow...
which means the workout was productive...
Even if I had to pay the price afterwards...*blushing*

How do I show my face at the gym again?
I guess I could just walk through the doors and pretend like nothing ever happened! *grin*

ENLIGHTEN | That Thing...

Monday, May 21


So how do find "that thing" so you are able to:
 • do your best work...
• follow your passion...
• fill that unexplained void...
and ultimately bless your own life...
as well as the lives of others...
and ultimately the world?

Know that you have been created for a specific purpose.

Second... ask yourself the following questions:
1. When are you most alive?
2. What feeds your soul?
3. What is the hardest work you do that is the easiest work you do?
4. What is it that makes you think, "I could do this forever."?
5. What most energizes AND exhausts you?
6. Is it sustainable? (Can you be doing this a year from now?)

I was fortunate enough this weekend to hear this message...
I found it enlightening...
and thought-provoking.
I hope you find it to be the same for you.

And if you haven't yet found "your thing" yet...
This should help get you started.

If you've been fortunate enough to discover "your thing"...
I'd love to hear all about it.

Messages like this really hit home for me.
I'm always needing reminders to keep me on track...

In other AMAZiNG news...
Happy Sweet Sixteen to my oldest daugther, Clara.
I can't even believe I now have a 16 year old. *sigh*

Freshening things up a bit around here on the blog...
Do you like the changes so far?
If you have any requests for something specific to be added...leave a comment. 
I'm always open to suggestions!!


Wednesday, May 16

Brides these days never had it so easy...
as far as inspiration and resources for planning the perfect day...

Take for instance the website
It's a place dedicated to helping you "discover and save wedding ideas in one, easy place"
It's much like Pinterest except you are browsing through photos/images posted by some of the best wedding blogs.
We're talking Southern Weddings MagazineThe Wedding ChicksGrey Likes WeddingsSnippet and InkEvery Last Detail, Inspired by This, The Brides Cafe, Bridal Musings and more.

You can browse by color...
and there's specific categories you can choose from as well.
Here's a taste of what you'll find...
Category | Theme
(subcategories include: Country, Classic, Rustic, Military, Cultural, Beach, Vintage and more)
Apple Orchard themed wedding photo via Inspired by This

Category | Flowers
(subcategories include: Bouquets, Centerpieces, Ranunculus, Flower Girls, Roses, Succulents, Peonies and more)
Ranunculus and Sweet Pea Bouquet via  The Brides Cafe

Category | Hairstyles
(subcategories include: Up-Do, Down and Hair Accessories)
Pretty Bridal Hair Tutorial via Bridal Musings

Category | Rings
Ring image via Every Last Detail

Category | Stationery
(subcategories include: Save-the-Dates, Menus, Table Numbers, Letterpress, Invitations & Guest Books)
Letterpress Stationery image via The Wedding Chicks

Category | Cocktails
Handmade Virginia Farm Wedding image via Southern Weddings

Category | Brides
(subcategories include: Shoes, A-line Dresses, Princess, Sweetheart Gown, Veil, Vintage Gowns, and more)
Jimmy Choo shoes image via Bridal Musings

Category | Grooms
(subcategories include: Tuxedos, Suits, Bowties, Groomsmen, and more)
Backyard Southern Wedding Groomsmen via The Wedding Chicks

Category | Decor
(subcategories include: Furniture, Place Settings, Lanterns, Linens, Candles and more)
Down home Rehearsal Dinner image via Inspired By This

Category | Desserts
(subcategories include: Cakes, Cupcakes, Ice Cream, Candy Bar, Minis, Pies and more)
DIY Ombre Sugar Hearts Cake via The Wedding Chicks

There are even MORE categories I didn't include photos of:
 and even one dedicated to Dogs!
(you heard me dog lovers)...

I'm telling you what...
 If you are a bride-to-be...
You've hit the jackpot with this amazing site filled with
inspiration for every aspect/detail of the wedding you are trying to plan.
The imagery, sources and information is literally at your fingertips.
Be sure to spread the word to anyone you know who could use this amazing resource.

They have a Facebook Fan Page too if you'd like to check them out...

I'm SO trying those DIY Sugar Hearts on that cake...
And I am loving the whole hair and makeup on the girl in the 3rd photo from the top.
In fact...
Here's an idea...
I could combine the two and totally do the whole 50's housewife thing...
Be completely dolled up - dress, hair, makeup and heels...
WHILE making the sugar hearts...*wink*
Who's with me?

Life | Thoughts about Mother's Day

Monday, May 14


I hope you all enjoyed celebrating Mother's Day over the weekend...
My day was filled with...

 Homemade Snickerdoodle Cookies from Clara


Fresh cut roses from around the house...
put in one of my favorite recycled vases and displayed alongside a surprise morning breakfast from Jason...

A lovely giftcard to HomeGoods...*wink*

And a brunch with my family...
including my mom, stepdad, aunt, uncle and cousins...
Followed by an afternoon of pool time...

I feel very blessed.
I hope you felt the same...

#1: Jason read the blog post apparently...hence the HomeGoods score! *wink*
#2: I made the Bacon, Egg and Toast Cups from this post. (I chose to do a scrambled egg version instead of the sunny- side-up and they didn't look as pretty. They took on a strange look when they ballooned up in the oven. Thankfully as they cooled, they shrunk back down. But I would describe them as "bird-like" since the bacon slices resembled wings. They tasted good. And they were easy to make. It just turned out to be an odd presentation. The best part? My girls actually made them as part of treating me for Mother's Day. 
#3: I ate like a pig and woke up this morning determined to get back into my exercise routine. (That motivation was later followed by my consumption of 5 remaining Snickerdoodle cookies.) *blushing*
#4: That bud vase is a recycled capers jar. LOVE collecting these as bud vases.
#5: That "surprise" breakfast was ruined a bit when I came walking out to the kitchen in a panic that no one was up and we were running late for church. Jason shooed me away and I hopped back in bed until I was told to come out. oops!!

Celebrate | Mother's Day Gift Ideas

Wednesday, May 9

Aside from the homemade cards and gifts that I LOVE receiving as a mom...
I've been compiling some Mother's Day Gift Ideas...
These are all things I myself would LOVE to receive...

Some of the ideas are very simple...
Some are a little bit expensive...
and some are "a lot - a - bit" expensive.
perhaps you'll be inspired if you've been stuck on what you want to be giving...
or what you'd like to hint around to "getting"...*wink*

Let me know if any of these things are on YOUR wishlist...

Recipe Bookmarks...

Artists I adore...
(left: Janet Hill Studio Art • right: Willow Tree by Susan Lordi)

Breakfast in bed or a Mother's Day Brunch...
(All photos via Martha Stewart: left photo, middle photo, right photo)

Keep me creating...
left: Silhouette Cameo • right: Personalized Embosser and Self-Inking Stamp Set

A fabulous dessert...
(left: Brio Tuscan Grille's Cheesecake  • right: Chocolate Chip Cookie Icebox Cake via Martha Stewart)

Stylish Camera Bags
(left: Jo's Totes • right: Kelly Moore Bags)

Gift Cards
(HomeGoods, Williams-Sonoma, Anthropologie and the Apple Store)

Hey J...
I posted this especially for you!
Hope the suggestions help take the guess work out of what to do for me on Sunday.
Breakfast in bed would be perfect...I love you!
(Now let's keep our fingers crossed that he actually reads this BEFORE Mother's Day) *wink*

Philanthropy | Operation Shower • Ponte Verda Florida

Thursday, May 3

As we inch our way closer to the weekend...
my excitement is building.

I'll be participating in a special event hosted by Operation Shower ...
a non-profit organization that provides delightful baby showers for military families.
The showers are hosted to help ease the burden of deployment as well as to celebrate and extend our appreciation for
the many sacrifices made by these families.

Operation Shower has teamed with Birdies for the Brave®...
and the PGA Tour to host a baby shower for 41 military moms-to-be.

I'll be traveling to Ponte Verdra Beach, Florida to help create an extraordinary day for these expectant moms...
who'll be leading the PGA Tour's 2012 The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass.

Operation Shower - Printables designed by Frog Prince Paperie

• Designed by Frog Prince Paperie

I'm honored to be collaborating with some talented and creative women who'll be working together to
make this an unFOREgettable experience for women who's husbands are
deployed members of the U.S. Navy and Army National Guard. 
• Cookies & photo courtesy of "Cookies Are My Canvas"

The event will feature high-quality products from sponsors and donors like
Petunia Pickle Bottom. These items will be presented to the moms-to-be
in Operation Shower's signature "Shower-In-A-Box". 

I've been given the honor to help create the dessert table
with a sweet friend and fellow designer, Kori from Paper & Pigtails.

Looking forward to hanging out with some fabulous friends...
as well as the opportunity to make some new ones...
and more....

My roomie is Kori and I'm "giddy-high school-girl-excited" *wink*
What a fun girl's weekend...
I'm SO looking forward to it.

and I'm insanely jealous of the Petunia Pickle Bottom products the moms will be receiving.

RECAP | Savannah, Georgia

Tuesday, May 1

I'm finally getting around to sharing some photos with you from our recent trip to Savannah...
We traveled the 5 hours from Florida to attend a wedding for some friends of ours.
I'd never been to Savannah and I must say...
It was beautiful.
I love old architecture and southern charm...
And Savannah, Georgia is FILLED with it - in every nook and cranny...

We ate at The Olde Pink House on our first night and the food was divine...
Apparently there are a lot of haunted places in Savannah...
including the old wine cellar of The Olde Pink House - we took a peek on our way out.
It had a Pub-feel to it and was much different from the fine dining upstairs.
(photo taken by my friend, Kris)

It was raining when we left the restaurant and so...
with Ella in tow, we decided to make the trek back to the hotel an adventure.
We traveled via PediCab-style (because I'd never been in one)...
And we were pretty wet by the time we arrived back to the hotel.
(No pics of any of this - couldn't get my camera wet) *wink*

The next day we did some sight-seeing.
It was unexpectedly chilly so we decided to take the Old Savannah trolley tour.
Unfortunately, when it's cold, the plastic/vinyl trolley windows are closed...
this makes for poor visibility for photographing anything. *frown*
We learned so much on the tour was definitely worth it.

We got off the trolley at City Market to enjoy some lunch, shopping and a little more sight-seeing.
I spotted this place calling my name...

Savannah's Candy Kitchen is a huge candy store with just about every confection imaginable.
One of the many things they are known for is their handmade salt water taffy...
(bottom left photograph below shows it being turned/prepped for cutting and wrapping)


Everything seemed to be beautifully coated in an assortment of chocolate...

Since it was Easter weekend while we were there...
a lot of custom orders were being filled for "Chocolate-covered Caramel Apple Bunnies". (shown below)
(We The Easter Bunny surprised Ella with one on Easter morning... in PINK, of course)! *wink*

Check out the triple-decker Marshmallows...dipped in chocolate
and look at those "Chocolate Gophers"- their rendition of a "Turtle"
(pretty huge and YES, we shared one).

Here is where I spotted the aluminum bottles of Coke and Sprite I shared with you earlier...

After spending more at Savannah's Candy Kitchen...
 than on the sweatshirt we ended up having to buy me because I was FREEZiNG...
We headed next door to what the locals say is the BEST pizza in town.

"VinnieVanGoGo's Pizzeria"
The "slices" were the size of a small-medium pizza - and it. was. good.
I do have to say the actual dining experience was...unusual.
We were seated outside (and I was already cold...remember?)...
and everything seemed kind of old and...well...dirty.
I have no idea how long the place has been open but judging from the sign...
it's been there awhile. *wink*
(And for good reason because there is no question - the pizza is great!)
I'm just sayin' it's a VERY casual dining experience - if you get me?

A random photo I took of a parasol hanging outside of a store...
just because I thought it felt very "Savannah-ish"...*wink*

The welcome reception that evening was at Churchill's Underground - a cool little underground British Pub...
(My friend Kris took this photo with her camera - resolution isn't great but I loved it too much not to share!)

The following day we dined at Paula Deen's infamous restaurant:
The Lady & Sons
The environment was nice and clean with a touch of southern charm.
While everyone else I was dining with chose to eat from the buffet...
filled with all of the Southern Comfort foods you can dream of...
I chose to order what the waiter recommended (and apparently Paula's pride and joy)
 Paula's Famous Chicken Pot Pie

 The presentation was definitely eye-catching...
And with this chicken pie lovin' girl...I was ready to be swept away by "amazing".

I was VERY disappointed.
I may as well have been served a loaf of bread with a tiny bit of cream sauce to dip it in.
There were literally two pieces of chicken in my tee tiny bowl.
The giant-sized pastry puff crust is merely an illusion to what you'll find underneath.
Pretty much nothing. *frown*
(I think I've been spoiled by Garden Gate Tea Room's Rosemary Herb Crusted Chicken Pie)
Nonetheless, it was a cool experience.
Everyone else I was with enjoyed the perhaps I'll try that next time. *wink*

The reason we traveled to Savannah in the first place...
Mike & Nicole's Wedding - Saturday, April 7th
Ceremony in Orleans Square
Reception at Harper Fowlkes House


It was a beautiful day...
And a wonderful weekend.
Congratulations again, Mike & Nicole.
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