Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Olympic Lunch Celebration!

On Saturday, the kids and I did a fun project of putting together an Olympic Themed Lunch Celebration!  Madi was my main helper, but Trev was just bursting with excitement over this whole event.  We put together a simple "international menu" of sorts.  One of my inspirations was this little box of Fortune Cupcakes that our friend Caroline had brought back for us from Seattle.  

These Chinese themed wrappers came with cute little messages to put around the bottom of each cupcake, just like a fortune cookie!

I thought this one was perfect for the Olympics!

Madi and I used a Georgetown Cupcake recipe from our book to bake Irish Cream Cupcakes to go in our Chinese wrappers.  They were topped with Irish Cream Cheese Frosting.

We put out a few decorations...

Proudly American with a touch of London to celebrate the Olympic host!

You already know I can't resist an ice cold bottled Coca-Cola.  When I saw these commemorative bottles, there was just no way to pass them up!  This classic drink was our American contribution to the meal!  Best little 100 calorie treat around.

We made Italian Ravioli served with a big loaf of French bread for a nice hot lunch...

And then enjoyed our Irish Cream Cupcakes, which Jimmy later said were the best cupcakes he had ever eaten.  If you love cupcakes, you have got to get the Cupcake Diaries cookbook.  The recipes are cupcake perfection.  I'm not exaggerating.

I am not sure exactly how this happened, but somehow this was Jimmy's cupcake fortune.        ;)

We enjoyed our lunch and tuned in to the Olympic games.  What fun this is every four years!  I know we all hold our own special Olympic memories.  Somewhere there is a photo of me in a Mary Lou Retton leotard with the Mary Lou Retton haircut. I have got to dig that up, it is classic 80's!  I remember going to see her perform live at a gymnastic showcase in DC, and watching her perform on the television while I did the "balance beam" on the back of our old brown and orange plaid couches!  The Olympics let us unite, cheer on, and dream big.  They are a cause for celebration.

Go, USA!  And thank you London for your hospitality!

Monday, July 30, 2012

How To Change Up An Outfit

On Saturday evening, I went out with some girlfriends to celebrate my friend Jennifer's birthday.  She is stunning and quite the fashionista, and I wanted to wear something fresh and fun for our girls night. I am always mixing and matching from my wardrobe, and with a mix of some older and newer pieces from my closet and a little innovation, I came up with a "new"outfit for the evening.  I love shopping my closet!  I often get questions about where I find my clothes, so I thought this may give you some insight into how I come up with what I wear.

My inspiration actually started with some craft flowers I purchased with a coupon at Hobby Lobby a couple months ago.  I had nearly forgotten I had them! I used a hot glue gun to attach them to pin backs which took all of two minutes.

I then pulled out a denim jacket I had purchased on the clearance rack at Old Navy back in 2004 (I wear things forever).  After attaching the flower pins to the eight year old jacket, it seemed like a new piece!

I then took out the comfortable lace dress from Kohl's my mom had surprised me with back in the spring when Jimmy and I had a date night to see The Lion King.

When I wore it that night, I dressed it up with nude heels and vintage inspired jewelry I already had for a soft, romantic look.  After all, it was a beautiful spring evening and I was going on a date with my man!

But when paired with my newly accessorized old denim jacket and a pair of flat sandals, it had a much more casual, yet still vintage, feel.

Same exact dress, but totally different look!  Perfect for a great dinner out with my girls! (And a great dinner it was.  Don't even get me started on the Caribbean Pumpkin Crab Soup! I may not stop talking about it.)

I have to tell you about the earrings I wore.  One of the girls in our youth group is a creative, artistic girl named Caroline.  She is also one of my piano students, and one of the things I love most about her is that she is completely and totally herself!  She almost always wears two different earrings instead of a matching set.  Last summer I was browsing the summer clearance jewelry at Belk and came across this pair of earrings.  Paris was still fresh on my mind after throwing Madi's Paris birthday party in April, and these caught my eye.  They were only a few dollars, so I channelled my inner Caroline and bought them.  I only wear them when I am feeling extra fun and free-spirited!

My personality likes change and keepings things fresh.  This includes what I wear.  I had to wear the same blue plaid school uniforms from kindergarten to 8th grade and it about did me in!!  Now I am all about variety!  I have found that by keeping and wearing things for a long time, mixing the old and the new, hunting clearance racks, and shopping my closet,  I can have a large wardrobe on a small budget.

Fashion is fun and often what you choose to put on the outside reflects something about how you feel on the inside.  Have some fun putting together a "new" outfit from your closet that puts some pep in your step!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

A Crabby Craft

Friday, Madi and I had some fun making a crabby handprint craft!  I found the inspiration on this website, and took it from there.  This was a fun project to make because I have a fondness for all things crab.  I grew up in Maryland, and summer seemed to officially kick off when you had a leisurely crab feast with family and friends on the bay or in someone's backyard.  There is nothing like a table clothed in brown paper or newspaper and covered with hot steaming crabs and shrimp, Old Bay Seasoning, vinegar, butter, and fresh corn on the cob from Maryland's Eastern Shore!  

To make our little crab, we started with an 8 x 10 canvas.  I covered Madi's hands in red paint, and she used them to form the crab's body.

I then sponged on some neutral paint to make sand.

And added some strokes of blue to make water.

The crab's cute little eyes and happy smile were added with a paint pen, and then we were done!  It dried quickly and was so cute I really wanted to keep it!

But we decided to surprise my parents with this little handmade work of summer art. They too have a fondness for all things Maryland crab -  my mom even puts out crab dishes in the summer!

They had recently treated us to two nights at the beach so we could makes some summer memories with them as a family.  It was a quick but very fun visit, and we wanted to say thank you.

So Madi and I made a little thank you note, and left our crabby craft at their house while they were out.

They loved it, of course!  A happy crab and a granddaughter's handprints are pretty hard to resist!  But I think Madi and I may have to make another one this week to keep because it was super easy and turned out so cute!

A summer memory made with my daughter that reminds me of summer memories past.

Enjoy these moments and soak up the last couple weeks of sand, sun, and freedom!

And if you are in Maryland...eat some crabs drenched in Old Bay for me!

(Summer, 2004)

Tabletop Tuesday

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Road Warriors, Part Two

After we enjoyed our free breakfast and loaded up the van, we set out for the last leg of our long drive to Illinois.  Madi had been keeping a travel journal along the way, and Trevor wanted to join in the fun.  He pulled out his little notebook from Miss Sandi and determinedly wrote down the states we had traveled through.  When he got to Tennessee I thought I might go just a little crazy.  I had to spell it for him about, oh, ten times or so!  But he was absolutely precious making his own travel journal.  And Madi's is priceless and filled with details!  She is a good little writer.

Since we were in Indiana, we saw a lot of this outside our windows.

(All I could think of for miles was a song about corn that I used to hear the Backyardigans sing around my house when Madi and Trev were smaller!)

The midwestern heat wave temporarily broke for the first couple days we were there. It would return with a vengeance, but when we rolled into town that first evening, it was breathtakingly beautiful.  We arrived at Grandpa's house just in time to see the sun start to make its descent. I love to stand on new ground, breathe in different air, take in fresh sights.

I was mesmerized by the way the light danced on the water behind the cattails.

We were hungry from our journey, and we ate our first meal in true Chicago fashion at Portillo's.  Let me tell you something, our family can eat us some Portillo's.  We are no joke.  That would be the first of several Portillo runs during the week!  If you are ever in the Chicago area, go get you a wet Italian beef sandwich or a burger that tastes like it came off the grill in your backyard, and some perfectly crispy and salty crinkle fries. Oh, and save room for the chocolate cake.  It is perfection on a plate.

We had a great first night with family.  It is always wonderful to be reunited.  The next morning I was the first one up and marveled once again at the beauty in Jim's backyard.

And enjoyed some quiet time for a few glorious moments.

Then everyone started congregating on the porch as they woke up.  We spent much of our trip visiting out there!  So peaceful.

Jimmy's dad had to do some work and his sister had Driver's Ed in the morning, so we took a walk and found a park for the kids to play in.  It was a gorgeous summer morning!

The kids played hard...

And we sat in the sunshine!

Honestly, I think my husband gets more handsome every year!

After Taylor was done with Driver's Ed, she took us to a very neat place called Pottawatomie Park, which is right on the Fox River.  The kids had more fun playing...

And then we climbed this lovely tower!

It reminded us a little of the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse at Disney!  Lots of steps to climb!

The day was definitely starting to heat up, but we still enjoyed the beauty.

On the ride home, Jimmy humored Madi and me and let us stop to try some treats at a local bakery and coffee shop - we can't resist trying little bakeries! 

And then he made another stop when Tay told us we could get free Slurpees at 7-11 since it was July 11th!  That was free fun for all!

After an already active day, the kids decided to run through the sprinkler when we came home to Grandpa who was watering the lawn.

Definitely one of summer's simplest pleasures!

When everyone was worn out and bathed, we ate a lovely dinner at home and enjoyed another evening visiting with family and friends, looking at old photos on the porch. Jim didn't know that we were collecting some for the power point at his upcoming surprise party!  And let me tell you, there were some winners in those old piles of photos!  We laughed and laughed.

We were all tired from a super active day and turned in at a decent hour. The next morning we would be up very early for more fun, this time downtown in the Windy City, a city we love...