Monday, March 31, 2014

A Spoonful of Sugar...

"A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down..." and, pretty paper motivates me to be more organized! I wish I could say that I was one of those wives and moms who keeps her house running like clockwork, but I'm really more of a juggler. One of my biggest headaches has always been meal-planning. Isn't one of the worst questions ever, "What's for dinner tonight, Mom?"??? Uggghh... I wish I knew. Well, I've learned the hard way that spending some intentional time on the weekend to plan the week ahead's meals is much less of a pain, than the stress of wondering each day what I will put on the table for my family that night, or worse yet, making daily trips to the grocery store to get all the ingredients I need once I finally come up with something.

Today, I want to share with you one of my secrets for making these tasks more enjoyable... PAPER WORKS printables from my favorite blog, Jones Design Company. If you've followed me for very long, chances are you've heard me mention more than once all the inspiration I draw from Emily and her beautiful blog. Paper Works is her monthly collection of stylish original designs to help keep you organized. You can subscribe for a small fee to a digital (print on your own) version or for a little more she now offers a pre-printed choice that she will mail to you. April's package is available now, and here's a peak at it:

Click here to go to Jones Design Company and see more details on all that's included!

I loved March's collection, with it's pretty script font, buntings, and green ombre theme. She always includes an original art print each month, and since I have several frames floating around that I like to change with the seasons, I especially look forward to her timely designs.

I used this month's print to update the frame on our mantle from a bit of new year's inspiration to a touch of green for St. Patricks's Day. The birch trees were perfect!

A couple of the items I use to help with my meal planning are the weekly menu and the grocery list with categories. I post them both on our refrigerator.

This seriously cuts down on the number of times Shine asks me what's for dinner and gives him peace of mind that I have a plan and he won't starve to death. Shimmer has caught on to adding things to the grocery list as we run out, and I start it as I add meals to the weekly menu. Making only one trip to the market makes me one happy mama!

I leave a more general shopping list on our island to keep track of things that need to be bought somewhere other than the grocery store (my Target wish list). And, to help with future meal-planning, I keep a monthly dinner menu in the top drawer of our island (where after each week I write down what we had actually had for dinner). This is a great reference on those weeks when I'm at a loss for ideas, and a good reminder of when leftovers are a possibility.

The last printable I've been using more lately is the weekly calendar. Since Love helped me complete a custom pinboard project for my desk earlier this year, I now have a place to hang this pretty reminder of all the places I need to be. As a bonus, the bottom to-do list helps me set a few goals for the week and be intentional and accountable for them.

The monthly subscription includes so many more cute things, like chore charts; note cards; and, even wallpapers for your electronics. Actually I printed one of those as a 5x7 and slipped it into a frame on my desk for St. Patrick's Day. Time now to open up my downloads for April!

Thank you, Emily for all the beauty you bring to my corner of the world...

Thursday, March 13, 2014

An Irish Blessing

One of the specific goals I set for myself at the beginning of 2014 ("a good deed I will do"), was to send four care packages this year -- one each quarter is what I was thinking. St. Patrick's day seemed like a fun theme for some "happy mail" for my niece who is in her freshman year of college.

An unexpected package to brighten up an especially long, cold winter! I hope she and her roommate enjoy all the magical details (clockwise from top center): a "rainbow" loom ladder bracelet made by Shimmer (I tucked a "wee" bit o green inside the printable card... doesn't every college student need some cash?!?!); Halls Defense Vitamin C drops and some Bath & Body Works "Lucky" hand sanitizer to keep her well; a St. Patrick's day fortune teller (free printable here); a pack of polka dot and stripe socks from Target; plastic "Kiss Me" necklaces from the dollar bin; a single serving of Lucky Charms embellished with a cute printable tag and a wooden spoon I stamped with a chevron pattern; a pack of Skittles to "taste the rainbow"; a few chocolate gold coins from the pot o' gold at the end of the rainbow bagged with a cute "It's Your Lucky Day" topper; a fun shamrock word search; St. Patrick's day jokes tied up with some gold baker's twine; a green pencil cup; a pack of Kleenex for her bookbag; and, last but not least, some holiday stripey straws I also found at Target (kept a couple of those for Shimmer and Shine, too). I bought a pretty box at the post office to pack it all up (blarney... they didn't have green), and thought the rainbow polka-dot tissue paper was the perfect finishing touch. I used a small paper doily and some gold stripe washi tape to address our "happy mail".

Praying this care package is a blessing of smiles and a temporary distraction from mid-terms and homework. Can't wait to see who God places on my heart to surprise next!

Monday, March 10, 2014

A Wee Bit O' Green

St. Patrick's Day is coming up next week and while we don't go overboard around here with any leprechaun shenanigans... I do want to change up my winter decor just a little for March. It's still so cold that I just can't bring myself to put away all our pretty off-white bottle brush trees or our paper snowflakes yet, but I did print this pretty gold four-leaf clover for our kitchen windowsill. Just the right touch next to my boxwood and a more subtle tribute to all things Irish.

Shimmer and Shine will be treated to some Lucky Charms for breakfast next week, which is a pretty special since I don't buy sugar cereal very often; and, I plan to make some traditional Irish Potato soup for dinner on Monday.

I spent a little time this afternoon making this pretty paper shamrock to hang on our twig tree in the hearth room. I was hoping to have time to make at least two more, but I actually like the simplicity of the single four-leaf clover... sometimes less is more.

My paperworks subscription this month from Jones Design Company included a pretty printable that was the perfect update for our mantle. (I'll do a post later this month about paperworks and how much I love it!)

Maybe April will bring warmer weather, and I'll be inspired to take down our Scandinavian mantle until next Christmas, but in the meantime it continues to be the bright spot in this year's loooong, cold winter for me.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

And The Oscar Goes To...

In honor of Hollywood's biggest night, here's a look at a pre-prom dinner that I styled for a friend last May.

Her daughter's prom had a hollywood theme, and with the recent release of the Great Gatsby, I was easily inspired to create an Old Hollywood meets the Roaring Twenties tablescape. I started a "pinspiration" board and then went to work sourcing what I needed to bring my vision to life for them.

My friend was borrowing some folding tables and chairs from her church and planning to host the dinner on her beautiful patio for her daughter and about twelve friends. Cooking for that many would be so stressful for me, I was happy to handle the decor for her!

First up, table coverings... and Martha Stewart's Celebration line at JCPenney did not disappoint. I found a pretty gold paper linen-look tablecloth, surprisingly elegant with the affordability of paper, and bought coordinating dinner and cocktail napkins from the same collection.

Shimmer tied up the flatware with sheer gold ribbon and topped each dinner plate with the pretty place-setting. She had the best time being my assistant as we set-up that afternoon and even played photographer, snapping a few pictures before the guests arrived.

The table centerpieces were made up of white feather boa topiaries I made and some of my own jewelry mixed with strings of party beads in metallic and iridescent shades. No Hollywood pre-party would be complete with a few Oscars statuettes. I downloaded the templates for those from Twig & Thistle and spray painted them gold.

When I think of the big screen, I think of popcorn... so, I made popcorn boxes from white cardstock and trimmed them with gold shimmery stars and pretty silver ribbon. Such a fun pre-party favor and the perfect snack for hungry teenagers! Star-trimmed swizzle sticks were added to their water goblets as a tribute to Hollywood's walk of fame, and the silver polka-dot flag banners I made from tissue paper were strung above the table. The way they fluttered in the wind added just the right amount of charm to the space.

The guest of honor, my friend's daughter, was stunned... she had no idea her mom asked me to help with this. We were told her friends were all just as surprised and that our pre-prom dinner decor set the tone for a magical night.

Enjoy the magic tonight as dreams unfold at the 86th Annual Academy Awards... I hope your favorite wins!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Derby Days

In our house, Shimmer's love for horses started around the time she was eighteen months old.

When she was in first grade, the movie Secretariat was released, and we all went to the theater to see it on opening night.  Of course, you and I know that Secretariat won the Triple Crown; but, she didn't know the history, and was literally on the edge of her seat with her "heart pounding so fast" down the stretch.  The rest is history... we follow horse racing (at least the Triple Crown circuit), pretty closely around here, and know the movie Secretariat word for word. 

Last year, we went to our first Kentucky Derby Party at the home of some friends. 

Love said I better do my homework and choose a horse because this would be a serious party.  So, I watched some early season races online and picked my horse and read the bios on several in the field.  I chose I'll Have Another, but Love, and Shimmer and Shine, decided they each wanted to have their own horse to cheer on in the Derby.  They chose Bodemeister, Take Charge Indy and Daddy Nose Best, respectively (if I remember correctly).  I'll Have Another came from behind to make it a super-exciting win!  We told our friends that night, that if the horse went on to win the Preakness, we would host a Triple Crown Party for the Belmont. 

Well, if you follow horse-racing, you know that I'll Have Another won a heart-stopping Preakness.  Were we ever excited!!!  The chance of a Triple Crown winner just does not happen very often, and is thought to be unattainable anymore in some circles.  The last Triple Crown winner was Affirmed in 1978.

Plans went into high-gear for our Triple Crown Party.  I made the perfect e-vite on my favorite online invitation site, Paperless Post. 

You can see, since this was the Belmont Stakes, I went with a New York themed menu.  Sadly, the day before the race, I'll Have Another was scratched from the field at Belmont ending the renewed hope of a Triple Crown.  Silver lining... the owners did what was right for the injured horse. 

Despite the letdown, our party went on and it was a lovely afternoon spent with friends.  I thought I would share a few of our photos to inspire any Triple Crown series parties you have planned this year.

My favorite creation, and most asked about, was a Triple Crown winner display of buttons I purchased on etsy and arranged on burlap with a vintage horse show ribbon and the traditional flowers of the Belmont Stakes, white carnations.

Cocktail bar setup, including fresh squeezed lemonade, and the rest of the mixers for the official Belmont Jewel.

A display of a few of our favorite horses over the years, including Triple Crown winners Secretariat and Seattle Slew.  His son, Swale, (who won the Derby and the Belmont, only to die tragically eight days later breaking my heart) and the hopeful, I'll Have Another. 

Shimmer and I threw together some pretty paper buntings the morning of the race to decorate for the party.  Took these photos just before our guests were due to arrive.

We also decorated one of our twig trees with the silks of former Triple Crown winners. 

Post time and some of our guests begin to gather for the race.  More pretty doily buntings by Shimmer and I.

Our dessert table complete with New York style cheesecake and more white carnation arrangements.

I also made horseshoe-shaped sugar cookies to send home as favors.

Here's to a great summer... and, may the best horse win!!! 
I've done my homework again this year and my pick for the Derby is Revolutionary.  I just can't resist a come from behind horse!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

April showers bring May flowers

Tomorrow is May Day and I'd like to invite you to bring a little sunshine to someone else's day.  I remember making a pretty construction paper wreath with flowers to hang on our doorknob at home when I was in grade school.  I can still picture it!  We even did a May Pole activity outside at recess.  It's a forgotten holiday for the most part now, but why not brighten the day of your neighbor, best friend, or child's teacher with some unexpected flowers? 

Last year, we made these pretty paper flower cones with printables from emily at Jones Design Company.  If you follow my blog, you know I subscribe to her monthly printables.  Check them out!  I have to admit, I didn't get them done in time for May Day; but, we used them for teacher appreciation week at Shimmer and Shine's school a few days later.  Would love to have filled them with wild flowers, but even a grocery store bouquet looked special embellished this way.

Here are few of my favorite ideas for this year, that I've seen recently on pinterest for your inspiration.

I hope you'll share your stories of whose heart you made happy, and be blessed as you create :)

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Spring Fever

While I was in Target last week shopping for Easter supplies, I'm pretty sure I was struck by a bit of spring fever.  I've heard a lot of talk about people loving their new Threshold product line; but, I found my little piece of heaven near the stationery aisle.  There was an impressive display of Mara-Mi giftables and I honestly could have emptied the shelves! 

I ended up treating myself to this gorgeous ceramic travel mug (and, I thought I couldn't enjoy my morning chai more, until I poured it into this pretty mug).  For Shimmer, I couldn't resist the sparkly two-tone coin purse.  Gave it to her on Easter day... perfect for her Sunday School offering.  You really need to seek out that aisle the next time you visit your local Target!

Not far away, I also decided to buy this striking gold striped notebook (pretty paper is a weakness of mine).  After letting it waste away on my bookshelf the last two years, I'm reading one thousand gifts by Ann Voskamp and I thought this fitting for my journal of thanks.  Along those lines, I was drawn to a gorgeous patterned box of thank you notes with the perfect punch of emerald green (color of the year) to have handy when I need one.  My last "unplanned" purchase was a nordicware tart pan.  Something I don't own and often wish I did so I can make quiches or fruit tarts.  Love the fresh aqua color!    

So, what do think about my diagnosis?  Looks like spring fever to me... and, for under $40 it beats a co-pay!  I'm feeling better already.  These make me smile...