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...

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Wishes

Happy Easter to you, my friend.
this day's light shall have no end.

For Christ did rise
in the golden morn

And by His life are we reborn.

Happy Easter to one and all!
The night is over, the sun is tall.
The day did break with a tiny beam
And flooded life with Light supreme.
Source:  Holly Pond Hill ~ A Child's Book of Easter

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Easter reading list

Last weekend, Shine brought me down an Easter storybook to read before bedtime.  It was a Lois Lenski book called, The Easter's Rabbit's Parade.  I gave it to him, I think three years ago now.  I love children's books (especially vintage), and almost every Easter, I buy Shimmer and Shine a new book to open from Mommy.

They aren't always Easter-themed. I expand to spring and classic Easter-related birds and animals.
Here are a few of our favorites, in order from top to bottom and left to right...

1.  Bunny's Noisy Book, Margaret Wise Brown  (a perennial favorite of Shine's from year's past)
2.  The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck, Beatrix Potter (any of her classics)
3.  Guess How Much I Love You,  Sam McBratney (our family still repeats every night at bedtime how far we love each other)
4.  The Fuzzy Duckling, Jane Werner Watson
5.  Make Way for Ducklings, Robert McCloskey
6.  The Country Bunny and The Little Gold Shoes, Du Bose Heyward
7.  The Runaway Bunny, Margaret Wise Brown
8.  The Easter Bunny That Overslept, Priscilla and Otto Friedrich
9.  The Golden Egg Book, Margaret Wise Brown (where would we be without her wonderful books?)
10.  A Child's Book of Easter, Holly Pond Hill (one of Shimmer's favorites and it never mattered what time of year it was -- Christ is actually mentioned, too)
11.  Spring is Here, Lois Lenski (Shimmer has her entire series of seasons books... they are treasures)
12.  The Easter Rabbit's Parade, Lois Lenski  (I enjoy the illustrations in this more than the story)

I hope these inspire you to add something new to your child's bookshelf, or least give you some ideas for a trip to your local library.

You know what I just realized?  We don't have the Tale of Three Trees in our Easter pile, so it missed the photos :(  I had it in our Christmas advent and will need to go get that out and add to our Easter reading basket!  It's one of the few Easter books I know of, that revolves around the true meaning of Easter.  I discovered another one this year though, and am looking forward to reading it together.

 It's called The Donkey who carried a King, by R.C. Sproul.

I also ordered The Egg Tree by Katherine Milhous.  It's my vintage pick for this year.  I haven't decided who gets which yet.  I'll have to preview them when they arrive on my doorstep.

The real story of Easter can be found in the gospels of the New Testament.  Try reading Luke chapter 24 and the book of John chapter 20 verses 1 thru 18.    I've attached links to the scripture in case you don't have a Bible nearby.  Thank you, Jesus, for the suffering you endured for all of our sins, and for the hope your resurrection provides to each one of us who asks you into our hearts.  Make us new and ever thankful for your sacrifice.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

McShimmer and O'Shine

Shimmer and I celebrated the season about a week ago with a visit to see Lord of the Dance.  I saw it years ago when it was at the height of its popularity, and was ready to join the troop by the end of the show (despite never having taken a dance class in my life)!  This time around the dancers we just as incredible; but, the girls don't all have the same long curly hair like they used to... I missed the uniformity of that, and the costuming was a bit different, too.  We had a wonderful "girls night" together though, and since Shimmer does dance, I know she had a special appreciation for what she was watching. 

Do you decorate for, or celebrate, St. Patrick's Day at your house in any special way?  I'm not at all into the leprechaun mischief... the school seems to have that covered anyway.  Last year, I spied those adorable rainbow twizzler and rolo treats on Pinterest, and couldn't resist making them for Shimmer and Shine and their classmates as a cute surprise. 

They were a huge hit!

This year, I decided I was about due to make some sugar cookies for their class snack time, and I just happen to have a shamrock cookie cutter that I found after the fact last year, that was begging to be put to use.

They were both pretty excited to take them in to their teachers and classmates.  Added a cute printable from One Charming Party, and some simple paper doilies, and green ribbon, and there you have it... do small things with great love.

As for decorating and celebrating at home, I've become a big fan of rotating cute seasonal printables in a few 8x10 frames around our house.  It's a quick and easy way to decorate, and Shimmer and Shine are always excited to see something new appear on the mantle or on the kitchen windowsill

Shine brought home some really cute St. Patty art projects from school and I had to get photos of those, too.  It's a good way to keep the memory of cute things they've made, when you can't store or keep them forever.

Since St. Patrick's Day fell on a Sunday this year, I decided I would give it a whirl and try to cook up some traditional Irish fare for dinner.  Gave the family a choice of three soups I had seen... an onion soup with melted Irish cheddar cheese croutons; an Irish potato soup; or, Guinness stew.  They chose the later.  Once the stew was simmering, I even decided to make my first loaf of homemade bread trying out this Irish soda bread recipe with currants. 

It was a festive and fun way to celebrate St. Patrick's Day.  And now... may we wish you a sunbeam to warm you; a moonbeam to charm you; a sheltering angel, so nothing can harm you.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Comfort in a Cup

I've been on a health kick lately... actually, I'm hopeful that it's more than just a kick, and rather a change in lifestyle. I gave up soda for Lent for the third year in a row and while the first two days were the hardest, I haven't missed it since then. Around the same time, Love and I attended a local charity ball semi-formal. Saw pictures after the fact, and was not happy at all with the way I looked. Instant motivation for regular treadmill workouts and a healthier diet. I'm not overweight by any medical definition; but, I'm not physically fit by any stretch of the imagination either. Shimmer and Shine are really active kids and I want to be able to keep up with them this summer and look good doing it! Instead of cookies and coffee with my Almond Joy creamer for breakfast, I have actually been eating a real breakfast over the last two weeks. Sometimes, as simple as half a grapefruit and an english muffin with peanut butter and other times as "fancy" as lemon blueberry quinoa pancakes. YUM!

This morning as I was making my breakfast, I wanted to share with you one of my favorite new finds at the grocery store... TAZO chai latte concentrate. It's comfort in a cup, without the guilt! Simple as mixing half a cup of the concentrate with half a cup of milk... heat and enjoy! I feel good, first because I'm actually drinking some milk (adding much needed calcium to my diet). Plus, calories are less than 130 and the sweetness is derived from cane sugar and honey rather than refined sources and is limited to 16 grams. I love a cup of warm spiciness to start my day... cheers, chai lovers!

My Back Pages

Image credit:

So... I've fallen off the blog wagon. And, like so many things in life, once I fall behind, sometimes it seems so hard to get back on. Mainly, because I have lots of outdated blog posts floating around in my head (from Christmas, New Year's, Shimmer's birthday, and even Valentine's Day), and it feels strange to post something so dated now that spring is around the corner. But, I hope those of you who do follow, or subscribe, will bear with my need to fill in the blanks with backdated posts, so that I can empty my mind, while I can still remember the details and attempt to chronicle them for my family. Two steps back, and one step forward, in my case!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Pen Pals

Today I'd like to share a project that I'm thankful I've taken the time to make a reality. 

Have you ever heard of a Mom & Me journal?  It's a secret diary between you and your daughter (or son).  I don't remember where I first heard of it, to be honest; but, you can find simple composition notebooks decorated by numerous moms on Pinterest.  This is a post I referred to myself, and here is another for those who want instructions to make a prettier version.

I decided to make one for Shimmer and I on one of my favorite paper and stationery websites, minted, after receiving a promo code email.  They have so many beautiful designs.  I was looking for something simple, that could be personalized with the captions I had in mind to focus our purpose. 

The notebook I settled on was from their wedding line, but I thought the simple hand-drawn heart and doodling accents were perfect for a 10 year old girl.

I received the journal a few weeks ago, but it's taken me some time to figure out how I wanted to start it.  Being a recovering perfectionist, I wanted to come up with something that was worthy of the first page and at the same time explain to Shimmer my hopes for the journal.  I want my daughter to know that she can ask me anything, share her hopes and fears, joys and sorrows with me and, of course, her Heavenly Father.  As she approaches her teens, I thought this would be a great way to open the door for her to ask or tell me things on paper that she might be too embarrassed to talk about face to face.  I love that it will encourage her to express herself better as a writer.  But most of all, these letters back and forth will help me as a mother to know what is going on in her pretty little head, strengthen our bond and become a keepsake just between us.

In the hopes of encouraging other moms to write back and forth with your children, I have Shimmer's permission to share my opening letter for those of you who might have trouble starting without some help: 

Dear "Shimmer",
  Now you are TEN!  I’m not sure how that is possible.  It seems like yesterday your Daddy and I just brought you home from the hospital, or sent you off to kindergarten when you were five.  Now, another five years has gone by, and you are a growing into the best daughter we could ever have prayed for.
  There are so many things mommy would like to teach you, and so many things you will have to learn for yourself.  I want you to know that I am trying my best.  I know without God’s help I will never be good enough or the mother you deserve.  I am impatient, I raise my voice, and I like things just so.  I am sorry.  I love you and your brother more than you will ever know and I will always wish that I could do better for you.  I’ll admit I don’t always love your behavior, and I’m quick to tell you that.  It is my responsibility though to be your mother and not just a friend.  That will come later, if you remember that no matter what tomorrow brings, I love you EVERY single day.
  There are so many things that I want you to know, and in this journal I hope we can share some of those.  I will write to you and sometimes it may be long like this, and other times maybe I will just share one of my favorite thoughts with you, or ask you a question.  I hope you will write back and do the same.  This will be our secret journal to each other.  You can ask or tell me anything.  I won’t show it to Daddy or "Shine".  You don’t always have to answer right away.  Sometimes you might want to think about what I ask for a few days to remember or decide what you want to write.  There is no hurry.  You can just leave the journal under my pillow when you have written to me.  I will write back within a few days, or when I come up with something else I want to share, and leave it under yours.
  I’m excited to see what our journal ends up holding and I hope you are, too!

And, our first journaling prompt: 
What is your best memory with mommy?  It can be from as far back as you can remember or maybe it happened just this year. 

I left the notebook on Shimmer's pillow and couldn't wait for her to find it after school. 

She loves it and feels so special to be my "pen-pal".  Truth be told, I'm the lucky one to have her as mine...

Monday, February 11, 2013


Do you remember warm fuzzies??? Those cute little pompom creatures with sticky feet and googly eyes... they were big when I was in junior high. I came across some cute valentine-colored warm fuzzies last year and couldn't resist bringing them home! Here's a peek at what we ended up doing with them.

If you're obsessed with cupcake papers like I am, and want a tutorial for these cute flowers, we used the one found on Skip to my Lou, HERE. Shimmer chose THESE free printable valentines, she personalized for each of her friends, and we added the warm fuzzies on top!

Shine has a lot of girls in his class so we did the same tootsie pop flowers for them; but, he liked THESE printable valentines better, and we found something different for he and the other couple boys in his class. We saw THESE "wheelie" cute valentines on a blog called thirtyhandmadedays (she's the creative source we're using for Shimmer's valentines this year, too).

I was so excited about the adorable vintage plastic blue cars I found at a local dollar store. They were perfect!!!

I'll leave you with one of my favorite quotes. My heart repeats it over and over when I have the chance to make a day more special for Shimmer and Shine and their friends... "do small things with great LOVE". Whatever you come up with will be wonderful if you wrap it in love!

Valentine Treats

I'm a little behind in posting all the details from Shimmer's birthday party, but I thought I would start off your week with some Valentine's Day inspiration. If you're like me, you may still be deciding on what to do for classroom valentines and treats. There are so many ideas, making the choice is sometimes harder than making the actual valentines... well, we can hope anyway!

We have a free day after school tomorrow, so I am gathering the materials today for us to get our craft on. I'm still debating what to send in for a classroom snack though. The last two years, I've been the cookie baker and decorater for at least one of their classes.

If your name is next to cookies this year, I hope these give you some decorating inspiration :)

I did something a little healthier for Shine's class last year and made little mini banana bread muffins (just used a pretty valentine liner to celebrate the occasion) and was also asked to help with drinks. Since Shimmer's class got the pretty sugar cookies, I wanted to make sure I did something extra-cute for Shine and his class, too. I had plenty of craft supplies leftover from Shimmer's Love Potion #9 birthday party the month before, and came up with these cute wraps for the Fruitables juice boxes we sent in.

All you need is some pretty scrapbook paper, paper doilies, baker's twine and some double-sided tape. The adorable straw flags were a printable from one of my favorite blogs, Jones Design Company. She offers free printables every once in awhile; but, also has a monthly club you can subscribe to (for a really small fee) with the greatest organizational lists, art prints, cute crafty things like the straw flags; plus, a cool tutorial every month. Love her!!!

Anyway, the juiceboxes were a huge hit and I hope it inspires you to make the treat you send in a little cuter. Making these memories for my kids and their classmates is one of the joys of my life, having fond ones of my own, from classroom parties when I was in elementary school and we had "grade mothers".

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Baker Hats

Every aspiring pastry chef requires a suitable hat, don't you think? Well, after seeing some adorable hats embellished with coffee filter and cupcake paper flowers, I knew our little bakers would definitely be needing those! You can actually buy disposable paper chef hats pretty inexpensively online or even purchase nice cloth ones; but, unlike the aprons I wasn't brave enough to make myself, I knew this was a project I could definitely handle. Afterall, I can't resist a great tissue paper craft! THIS tutorial is easy to follow, if you want to make one for a little chef in your life.

With some pretty alphabet stickers I found at Michaels, I personalized the hats ahead of time and set one at each placesetting. Not to leave their American Girl dolls out, I made hats for the four of them, too!

Following the advice of the girls from One Charming Party, I pre-glued the coffee filters and let the girls choose from a fun assortment of cupcake liners to customize their hats when they got here.

They each chose four regular size wrappers and three mini wrappers to make their flowers.

For the doll hats, I simply used white cupcake liners and the girls picked out two cupcake papers and three mini muffin papers for the center.

After we let all the flowers dry a bit, we "fluffed" them up and I hot-glued each of their beautiful creations onto their hats to make sure they stayed put. How cute!!!