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Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Hanging of the Greens

Maybe it is a Southern thing or something else that changed while we were away. But I wanted you to know that Christmas mailboxes in Nashville are fantastic! If I can't see a red letterbox outside my flat, I'll take a riot of Southern greens on the mailbox at the end of my yard.


I thought two swags were going to be plenty of postbox decor, but when I saw the beribboned magnolia explosions in our neighborhood, I had to join the fun. This is a tradition I'm going to take to every future house.


It may require importing magnolias.

I was beginning to think some people were using their mailboxes to brag about having magnolia trees in their yard. I wasn't above stealing some and threatened to swipe some from my Richmond girlfriend when I visited earlier this month.

Don't be dismayed at my burgeoning photography skills with my new snapper. Most of these were taken from the passenger seat while the Mister was taking us on a museum outing (The Rockwell exhibit at the Frist is a good one if you're in town). Driving while your wife hangs herself and a big camera out the window begging you to stop or justfortheloveofPete slow down should be an item on those pre-wedding compatibility tests.

Truth be told, this mailbox above is fancy even without the Christmas greens. I'm saying that so you'll ignore the shadow created by my Duggar-like vehicle with the Mister driving about 35 mph.

When you see the him next, remind the Mister that some of these were in the shadows. I think I might, too. But I hope you get the gist of it. Mailboxes are really central to great bits of Christmas cheer, right? They're the vessel in which cards and packages arrive with a greater welcome and anticipation than any other time of year. So it makes such sense that they're one of the most festive parts of the house and provide a warm welcome from the street.

The new year will find me seeking out friends based in large part on the greenery growing in their yard. If you have a magnolia or two, I'm hoping we'll be best friends. Or at least let me come over with garden sheers. In the daylight. xo

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Cheese for Christmas

The Mister surprised me with a camera this morning! I'm already hard at work zooming in on intense play with new toys. I promise the kids were squealing earlier. It was an early and exciting morning and now the countdown until naps is on!

Biggest Brother has taken lots of trips around the neighborhood on a shiny new bike. He reports the early churchgoers on Christmas morning were delightedly waving to him. To a boy thrilled with a big gift from Santa. Sweetly timeless.

We're sure we had company last night as we awoke to boot prints in the fireplace soot. Don't get me started on the crumbs Santa left on my kitchen table. But no complaints -- we're tickled he enjoyed our snicker doodles (Big Brother suggested he might tire of chocolate chip cookies).

Must be Santa, must be Santa, must be Santa Claus! Hooray for a happy Christmas morning, a beautiful fire (thanks, Biggest Brother!) and an abundance of joy. 

We're grateful for these blessings and good cheer. For my new toy that will inspire lots of close ups of our lives. You might not see my face for a while -- I'll be the one behind the lens. Say cheese!

Wishing you every blessing and peace at Christmas and always. xo

And to all a Good Night

Merry and bright here and I hope for you, too!

The Christmas concerts have played their last note, the packages are all wrapped, holiday houseguests are home, stockings are hung and cookies and carrots await Santa. Today's busyness of baking and wrapping and playing games is through. Now all is calm.

It has been a wonderful season of giving and receiving. Even before it all really gets underway. The Mister reminded us tonight that our most treasured gifts are each other and Baby Sister asked that we think of those who "don't have even one toy."

The greatest gift is also the peace to enjoy the time together. I see lots and lots of pajama mornings ahead for this crew that had an absurdly short "summer." They've earned it. We've made some great progress in settling in over the holidays and I've seen a lightness that brings us all. There's a twinkle in our house again!

Adding to that sparkle is the Christmas decor! It is always a treat to find a place for treasures in a new home. I still want to tell you about our decorations and how enchanted we are by the Southern mailboxes, too. I suspect there will be time to do that while little people play with new toys and we can catch up later this week. But meanwhile, here's a snapshot of the gang after Mass this evening.

Merry Christmas. Happy Christmas. And to all a good night.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Then the Cops Came

We're decking the halls and I haven't told you about the latest Thanksgiving coffee!  Baby Sister's first fall when we lived in La Grange, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for my Midwestern girlfriends who'd helped make our life there so warm. Of the many gifts we've received from our nomadic life, tops is delightful friends around the world - for which we're really grateful. And so a tradition of hosting folks for ham biscuits and hot cider continues.

The best parties end with the police showing up, right? What if they showed up ahead of the guests? Never a dull moment here.

There I was in the predawn darkness doing party prep. This is my most productive time of day and I know I'm not alone. I left a meeting once with a dear friend late one evening. She cheerfully announced she was going home to paint a bathroom. Husband on travel, kids asleep. I hear ya.

And speaking of husbands on travel, you should know had mine been home the morning of my coffee I probably wouldn't have asked the police to help me ferret out unwanted vermin. Busy whirring around, icing cookies, firing up the coffee and cider urns and pretending to be those busy little woodland creatures from the movies, I could tell I wasn't alone. I would have put another set of hands to use, but I heard claws. I know the sounds of our house and 4 children sleeping. None of them involve scratching. Imagining a house full of small children and fancy new lady friends combined with a trapped raccoon (I considered bats or birds but I'm telling you I heard the thumping of a tail and claws. Ew.), I enlisted the help from the local finest.

The most memorable bit of the day for the boys surely was waking to the sound of walkie talkies and policemen scouring the house for an animal that turns out was making lots of noise under the house. A raucous vermin issue behind us, I offered Belle Meade's best first dibs on the buffet and hurried everyone out the door.

Almost time for friends to arrive. Baby Sister and her school friends didn't have school on party day so the house was filled with big and small friends who made themselves right at home. Most were friends we've met through school and a few friends we've made at parks and picnics came, too. Much to my great delight and continued proof of how close knit Nashvillians are, many of them knew each other. A warm house filled with laughter and friendship with some of the nicest new friends. I kept thinking of my Virginia, La Grange and London girlfriends and how much they'd really love my new friends - their Southern charm, wit and graciousness. There may be a few translation issues and we'd surely have to ask the Nashvillians to slow down, but what a great party it would be to have them altogether. Someday!

But onto the food and decor. Did I tell you this already? We used our sticks to jot notes about that for which we are thankful. Friends added fullness to the branches.

 Table full of treats.

Every year I ask guests to bring a pre-loved sweater (jumper if you will) for a donation. No one wants at arrive to a party empty-handed and it starts the season of giving in the warmest way. And don't spend another dime on a chalkboard. Use black card stock or poster board and white paint pen!

The little "Come On In" sign tucked into the wreath is card stock and pen again. Easy peasy.

You're not leaving my house without a favor if I can help it. This year's was a repeat of a previous one (there has to be some benefit from all this moving. At least I eek out a little efficiency from it.) A tea bag wrapped in burlap.

Good parties require a little DIY. I'll have to tell you later about the dining room revamp this party inspired.

A new city and another new house filled with new friends and yummy leftovers. The first party of the holidays behind us and good cheer all around! Giving lots and lots of thanks.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

It's a Wonder

Big Sister turning seven should be a wonder of the world. Seriously. I feel like I must have dozed through the last five and a half or so years because it doesn't seem like that long ago that she was tiny. That our house was bombarded with pink receiving blankets, pink flowers and really anything pink.

She's still super girly, but lately she's also a big fan of being sporty like Big Brother, too. He gave her neon running gear so they can match. Buddies!

The Mister and I met her for lunch at school on her Big Day. You'll note that day she wore Mary Janes and fuzzy coat topped off with a Virginia Tech knit pom pom beanie. 

It doesn't seem like long ago that she was four or that we were mid-Mary Popp. But I know she's getting bigger as I see her legs stretching out nearly as long as her goldilocks.

She's a super spectacular seven year old and due lots of fanfare. Once again, our American Girl celebrated with her best buddies. She was extra lucky to have a sweet cousin bake her a beautiful cake to continue the festivities with all twelve cousins gathered en masse in Virginia.

This year found her touring Stonehenge, having crumpets at Wimbledon, being a little British school girl, sledging in Hyde Park, visiting Normandy and Sicily, sunbathing in Florida, getting cowboy boots, singing along to Taylor Swift and becoming a Nashvillian. Whew. If they weren't such good times it could be bittersweet. But oh! What a year it has been and how happy we all are to have shared it with our sweet girl.

So the very happiest birthday to our resident doll. May this year be even better and may the days go just a teeny bit slower. xo.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Bench Cushion That Kismet Made

This is the best project I never planned! A no sew custom bench cushion for about $12 and 15 minutes!

No kidding - the most time consuming part of this endeavor was finding where the Mister keeps the iron. This isn't our forever house (or even our house) so I didn't want to spend much. But this little spot needed a cushion. Throw pillows still left it looking bare.

So there I was at Walmart scouting supplies for Biggest Brother's monk costume. I tossed two body pillows in my cart thinking maybe I could cover them (for the benches, not Padre Pio). As I could barely see over them to forge ahead, I figured they were too fluffy to be seats. But in the same department, a $24 full size foam mattress topper? Maybe so. 

Would you believe that the spare fabric I had for this little project was an old full size duvet? I think it was my own Biggest Brother's. I didn't realize until I started measuring and snipping, but of course, the mattress pad fit perfectly inside the duvet. Kismet!

My pig kept close tabs on the proceedings.

Hot glue is also how I sealed the monk's costume. I had every intention of finally firing up my sewing machine yesterday, but glueing was even easier.

Pull tight and staple closed like an envelope.

Pop into place!

The foam remnants aren't enough for a similar bench upstairs, but with a little more luck, they just may be enough to cover the dining room chairs. By the coffee next week. Eegads! And good news on that front, too - people are actually coming!

I love when a plan comes together. Even when I don't plan it.