Saturday, December 21, 2013

A Saturday Song...

Christmas seems to come earlier and earlier each year.  We are heading to our first family gathering this morning. Food is in the oven, presents are being packed into the car and the girls are flooding the house with Christmas carols. With all of this commotion, I find myself sneaking off to my office listening to a couple of MY favorite Christmas songs...ones that don't come along with claymation characters : )

So, here is a song for your Saturday...

I hope you have a wonderful weekend and a very Merry Christmas : )

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Friday, December 20, 2013

The Friday Five...

{ A little Pinot Grigio while cooking for holiday parties...nothing wrong with that.  
Actually...there is a lot right : ) }

{ The girls saw The Nutcracker Suite for the first time.  
One was absolutely enthralled... and one was just really hungry }

{ This is the "case" my mom was carrying her new smart phone in.  
No worries...I bought her a new case today that is a little less bulky...and a lot less floral : )  }

{ I found the perfect jewelry for Jason's office party.  My favorite had to be the black cowhide bracelet.  Super cool  }

{ Ava assuming the role of Cat in the Hat for just a moment...
looks a bit crazy without the fur and the whiskers : )  }

What are Your Five?

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Have you seen this?...Air Force Band Flash Mob

I  have been to the Smithsonian National Air &Space museum countless times, but at no other time do I wish I could have been there than on this day.  The United States Air Force Band pulled off a wonderful surprise to kick-off the Christmas season. 

Just so you know, I would be one of the people with the goofy looking smiles and smart phone in the air.  I love how the performance kept getting bigger and bigger, up to the very end.  LOVE it : )

(via Independent Journal Review)

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

An Art inspired Birthday party...

We celebrated Ava's 8th birthday with LOTS of paint and LOTS of art...which I think would have been my dream birthday as a kid : )  What is it that they say about living vicariously through your children? Anyway...

It all started with the invitation which I LOVE.  My friend Carolyn helped me out with her amazing graphic design skills.  Pantone color books were the inspiration for the invitation.  Ava is obsessed with them, so it seemed like the perfect way to get her excited about the festivities to come.  You can see more about the invitations and find out where to order them here

I had seen many art parties where the kids painted on individual canvases, but I wanted to try something different.  In the weeks leading up to the party, I bought some insulation foam sheets and had the hardware store cut them into various sizes.  In all, I had 8 pieces.  I then painted them white.  I looked up "famous artwork coloring pages" online and found a lot of choices.  I took my favorites and projected them onto the foam sheets and then traced them with a large sharpie.  

The result looked like life-sized coloring pages.  I LOVED it.  And who could go wrong with Vincent Van Gogh, Mary Cassat, John Singer Sargent, Claude Monet and Piet Mondrian as inspiration? 

I really wanted the back yard to feel like an art studio, but I had no clue how to display these really large "canvases" I gave that job to Jason : )  And he had the amazing idea to make easels out of ladders.  We gathered 8 ladders of various sizes, some wood...some metal, and he attached wood dowels to them and made them into easels. We then took canvas dropcloths and draped them around the bases of the ladders, so it would feel like a messy art studio. 

In the center of all the easels, we had a table set up with all of the art supplies- aprons, paint brushes, tempura and acrylic paint and pallets. 

The weather was going back and forth between cold and warm in the week prior to the day of the party, so we had a space heater on standby, but it ended up being a beautiful day.  To chase a way the last bit of cool in the air, we had hot chocolate and apple cider for the kiddos..

I had a little sign to greet everyone that said "Ava's Art Studio" as they came into the backyard. 

And then it began...

Everyone selected their apron, paint brushes and paints and then chose the artwork they wanted to paint.

The canvases were large enough for the kids to work in pairs which ended up being a lot of fun to watch.

A couple of them got a little carried away and started to paint each other...

 ...but most stayed pretty focused : )

After the masterpieces were completed, it was time to eat.  Ava chose everything on the menu- veggies and dip, fruit salad, cheese and crackers, orchard salad...and to throw a bone to the people who eat meat, she consented to corn dog muffins : )

We served lemonade and punch in mason jar glasses.

I use these glasses at every party now, but try to make them look different with new toppers, ribbons and straws.  This time, I used the same artwork coloring pages for the toppers. I colored them in with the pink, green and yellow that Ava picked out, and then tied a ribbon around each one, and added a classic yellow chevron paper straw. 

I made silverware packets by gluing two paint cards together (that I picked up at Home Depot) and then stuffed it with a napkin, fork and spoon. 

After all the food was eaten, it was time for cupcakes!  I thought a good way to carry on the art theme, was to let the kids decorate the cupcakes themselves.  Each child got their own paint pallet with a rainbow of colored toppings to choose from. 

The last thing to do before everyone left, was to give away the favors. 

Carolyn made me these cute little thank you cards to match the invitations.  I clipped them to the bags with each child's name written on the back.  Everyone took home their art apron, paint brush, paint pallet and an artist clipboard. 

I bought small clip boards that were perfect for 5"X7" paper at Office Depot, and painted them white.  I then sewed a piece of elastic to hold one pencil and six crayons for each clipboard.  I love that the kids' can take their clipboards with them wherever they go, and create their own masterpieces : )

It was a crazy day, but Ava had a blast!  The party wasn't even over before she started telling me what she wanted the theme to be next year.  She is her mother's daughter : )

Happy Birthday my sweet Ava!

You are a treasure that your dad and I have been blessed to call our own for 8 wonderful years.  We LOVE you to the moon and back : )

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Saturday, December 7, 2013

A Saturday Song...

A couple Thanksgiving newly crowned eight year vertically challenged Christmas tree...and a few health scares later...and we are all still standing.  Amazingly.  To say that the last couple months have been challenging would be an understatement.  But I have learned that in the midst of our greatest challenges, come the sweetest moments.

Here is a song for your Saturday...

I hope you have a wonderful weekend : )

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Friday, December 6, 2013

The Friday Five...

{ Another successful Christmas tree expedition. A truly beautiful day...a little snow
on the ground, a little chill in the air, and a beautiful sun bright above. Perfect : )  }

{ A day of antiquing with my sister in Asheville.  I found the most amazing rusty tin letters!  How really rusty, old letters can be so expensive...I have no idea.  Have to have them though : )  }

{ Lots of family means lots and lots of pie.  LOVE Thanksgiving get-togethers }

{ My sweet girl won the trust of this mare after the most amazing 12 minutes of them
figuring each other out.  Her patience and love for animals is awe-inspiring }

{ Jas and I became God parents to our adorable niece Cora.  The ceremony was at
Duke Chapel, which I had never seen before.  It was beautiful }

What are Your Five?

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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

DIY: Paper bag Advent calendar

I have wanted to make an advent calendar for the girls for the past few years, but I never got to it.  This year, I was determined that in spite of Ava's birthday coming right on the heels of Thanksgiving, I was not going to miss out on another year.  So...yes...I am one of those people who have started decorating for Christmas before we have even enjoyed Thanksgiving- something I said I would never do.  I have to say though...I am pretty excited about how it turned out.  And it was super easy too!

You will need-

2 different sizes of paper bags
washi tape (various sizes and patterns)
black sharpie
2 sets of number stencils (in different fonts)
6 small nails

I found these two sets of numbers, printed them on thick card stock, cut them out, and used them as my stencils.  I used the first set on the smaller paper bags, and the second set on the larger paper bags.  

Once, I traced the numbers on each bag, I used the washi tape to decorate each one.  I found many different washi tape designs at Michael's, and they were half off too.

I did not want all the bags to be stuffed with candy, so I raided all the one dollar bins at Target, Wal-Mart, Michaels, etc. and found some amazing stuff- pencils, holiday crafts, ornaments, hand warmers, and the list goes on.

After stuffing each bag, I took the canvas ribbon, and created three swags above my mantle, each 12" inches apart.  I knotted the ribbon, and nailed it to the wall under the knot, so the nail was hidden. 

I then took my trusty clothespins and...

... hung the bags.  Eight bags on the first row, nine on the second and eight more on the third row. 

I really love the way it turned out.  And I have every intention of reusing them from year to year.

As each day goes by, I will let the girls get down one bag, and then we will fold it flat, and hang it back up.  That way, the calendar can be a focal point throughout the Christmas season. 

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving first : ) and a very Merry Christmas after that!

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