Cinco de Mayo! Ole!

Cinco de Mayo.

Cinc-o. De. May-o.

CINCO DE MAYO!!!

Cinco de Mayo has to be one of the most fun fiestas.  It’s fun to say.  The food is delicious.  The décor is festive.  The drinks are cold.  I really just don’t think it can be beat.

This year was our very first Cinco de Mayo fiesta, and I am hoping it will become an annual tradition.  We’ve got our annual Christmas Eve Eve Dinner in December, and Cinco de Mayo seems like the perfect reason to have a party in the summer.

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For Cinco de Mayo, we lit up the backyard with colorful twinkle lights and festive decorations.  We served the food and ate outside at tables covered in butcher paper and mix-matched chairs. The weather was great.  The conversations were better.

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While Dan was manning the grill for the fajitas, we had snacks and drinks ready to go. Including a make your own margarita bar.

What I learned is that Pioneer Woman doesn’t hold back in her blackberry margaritas!  We experimented with the recipe, and eventually landed on the one you see written on butcher paper. They were delicious, especially when layered with traditional margaritas.

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When your friends volunteer to bring their own blenders you know you’ve got good friends.  Don’t ever let them go. Especially if they’re got a professional grade blender.

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And for all that is good in this world, try this lime sugar for the rim! It’s simply sugar with lime zest, but it is oh so good.

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The drinks were delicious, and went perfectly with our snacks!

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We served guacamole (thank ya much, Publix), Pioneer Woman Restaurant Style Salsa, and a super easy fruit salsa with cinnamon pita.

For dinner we served tacos, steak fajitas, black beans, and rice.  I could tell you that I didn’t get a picture because it was a little dark outside, but the real truth is that we gobbled it up too fast.  No judgment please.

I did manage to get a picture of these perfect little ice cream sandwiches!  We served sugar cookies with raspberry sherbet and brownies with dulce de leche ice cream. Ole.

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And when one of your friends just happens to be celebrating a birthday at your Cinco de Mayo fiesta, you throw some candles in the ice cream sandwiches! Then you run outside because you realize they’re melting in the Alabama heat.  And, you get a blurry picture.

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Dinner was delicious.

I loved the decorations.

But, do you know what my favorite thing was? Our friends! We played Can Jam, ping pong, ate lots of food, made more margaritas, and had great conversations.

It was a great start to an annual tradition!  I admit that I had big plans for the decorations.  There were lots of things I wanted to make, more recipes I wanted to try, and I had my eye on some dishes that would have been perfect.

I did take some time to set up a small table earlier just to see what things could look like.

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At the end of the day though, I wouldn’t have traded our paper covered tables and Hawaiian print chairs for anything.  It doesn’t matter what you’re sitting in.  It matters who’s sitting beside you.

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Cru Mystery Dinner

My friend, Alice, is really fun.  She’s a big dreamer, and she loves people so well.  We worked together at Auburn Christian Fellowship, and I quickly learned that we’re a great team.  We both love ideas and especially love ideas that involve a party.  At ACF, we helped organize the Christmas Ball, Halloween Party, and Spring Fling.  Alice is great at coming up with the  ideas, and she’s great at sharing her vision with other people.  When you hear her ideas, you want to be a part of the plan!

Alice works part time at Campus Crusade (Cru) here in Huntsville, and one of her ideas has been to host an annual mystery dinner.  The mystery dinner is a really fun way for the students to all work together.  But, beyond that, it’s a time for students to share about how the Lord has used Cru to impact their lives and the Cru staff to share fundraising and tangible needs.

The mystery dinner theme is new each year, and this year was  Medieval Murder Mystery.  Several months before the event, Alice asked if I’d help with ambience.  She described that as “setting the mood.”  Meaning people needed to grasp, as soon as they walked in the doors, that this was a medieval themed play, and that the room and table design should make people feel like they were in a medieval banquet hall.

Alice also shared some other criteria: Along with making the room feel like a banquet hall, we had to incorporate items from the skit.  Each table needed a map, catapult instructions, clues, and a way to write out their final guess at “who done it”.  We also had to do this while being good stewards of our resources- meaning a very small budget.

The event venue was a local church that graciously allowed us to use the space. Students, Cru staff, and our husbands (thanks Dan and Michael!) made all of the decorations.  When you’re working on a tight budget, it is so helpful to have lots of volunteers!  The students came over to Alice’s several nights before the event and painted, sewed, burned, hammered, organized, laughed, you name it- they did it!  Without them and their endless college energy, we would not have been able to pull this off with such success!

Here are a few of my favorite parts of the room:

Guests were able to sponsor a table, or request to sit with other guests.  When the guests arrived, they were shown which table they’d be sitting at using the scroll seating chart.  Several students found this knight in a storage room just before the guests arrived, and thought it would be perfect.  I agreed, and he stood guard over the seating chart!

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Guests were seated at banquet tables.  To make the tables feel like long, grand tables, we used two tables for added length. So, table 1 and 2 on the seating chart were pushed together to appear as one  long table.

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Each table was marked with a table number that coordinated with the seating chart. I hand painted the number onto logs that came from my family’s land. My dad, husband, and cousin, Luke, spent their Easter cutting logs and gathering greenery (smilax) so that we had enough for all 20 tables!  Then, my dad made a special trip to Huntsville to deliver the logs and the greenery you see on each of the tables. I could not have done this part without them!

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Each table also had a map, catapult instructions, and a packet of clues.  We placed these things on a wooden charger, and used a burlap bag to store the clues.

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Tables were decorated with greenery and candles.  Many of the candles and lanterns were donated by students or members of the church that allowed us to use this space for the event.

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Crests with fabric draping were used to add height to the room.

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Each place setting also had a Welcome note that shared more about Cru and instructions for the murder mystery.

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It’s a blurry and “candid” picture, but this was my favorite part of the room!  Guests filling each table to see their children and friends perform in a dinner theater!

These guests laughed and clapped and supported these students so well!  And, they got to hear more about how the Lord is moving in their campus, and how Cru has impacted these kids’ lives.

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This was a really special night, and I was honored to be a small part of it! If you’d like to learn more about Cru, you can visit their website:

http://www.uahcru.com/

 

 

Our Trip to D.C.

We had a fantastic trip to D.C., and my parent’s did a great job on the flight!

This had to be their first flight in at least 25 years, and they rocked it! Check in was not quite a breeze, but not quite like herding cats. So, I’d call that a success.

Once we got on the plane, they were right across the aisle from us so we could keep an eye on them. Mom loved looking out the window.  Dad loved when the plane landed.

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Once we got to D.C. lunch became the priority.  We ended up at Legal Seafood, and let me say

It. Was. Delicious.

So delicious that there’s no photo evidence to share for it.  There was really no time before devouring the bowl of cream of crab soup. So. Good.

We walked around the world to get there, according to Mom. Reality is that we walked two blocks and went back to the hotel for a nap before the rehearsal dinner.

The centerpieces of the rehearsal dinner were so lovely, and incorporated the language of flowers.  Did you know that daisies can mean loyal love and bells of Ireland can mean good luck?

On Saturday, we took a taxi to Mount Vernon.  We visited Mount Vernon many summers when I was growing up, and it was so fun to be back!

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It was rainy, but we had a fantastic time! And just look how cute they are!

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After a trip to Mount Vernon, we went to my aunt and uncle’s for lunch and the best cakes ever!

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Family time is really the best time.

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It’s always special when all of my dad’s brothers are together.  This doesn’t happen often, so it’s so fun when they can all be together!

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We made it back to the hotel with just enough time for a nap. We really know how to relax.

The wedding was at the National Museum of Women in the Art’s. It was such a neat venue, and everything was beautiful!

I love all those special little details at a wedding. The bride is a librarian so our seating chart used the Dewey Decimal System. Our table was 941.5 for Ireland, one of their vacation spots.  That’s just the special little detail I love!

They also had a “Treat you self” pie topper and the favors were doughnuts. I’m not really sure you can beat that.

All in all, it was a great weekend! We are so looking forward to being back in Mount Vernon this summer for more family time!

Things have not slowed down since we got back. Last weekend I got to help with a shower for a really precious friend, and this weekend we’ll be hosting Sunday Brunch.

Check in again later this week.  I’l be sharing a recipe and craft idea from the cutest children’s book shower you’ve ever seen.  

And, we’re off!

Today, we are headed to D.C. for my cousin’s wedding! Mom and Dad drove up to Huntsville last night, just in time to have Mexican food and a little frozen yogurt!

We’ve been so excited about the trip, and this photo added to my excitement.  My aunt sent me this photo of one of our trips to the area. Clearly, I’ve always had a flare for fashion.

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Don’t worry. I won’t be wearing my Minnie Mouse dress to the wedding. Just the rehearsal dinner tonight.

Today, we’ll explore the city and spend time with family at the rehearsal dinner.

Saturday, we’re headed to Mount Vernon and lunch with family! Then, back to D.C. for the main event!

I have such fond memories of spending time with family in the Washington area.  It has been too long since we’ve been there, and I’m looking forward to being back.

This will also be the first time that my parents have flown in at least 25 years, and I’m still not sure how I convinced them to fly.

I’ll be documenting the trip through Instagram, and I hope you’ll come along with us! You’ll get a full recap of the weekend when we get back!

Amy’s Moving to Huntsville!

Let me tell you about my friend, Amy.  This sweet friend who I met when I was a pretty vulnerable freshman at Auburn with a pretty terrible hair cut.

Amy and I became fast friends when we found out we lived in the same dorm and played for the lacrosse team.

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Amy’s the one on the far right that looks like an athlete.  I’m the one in the middle that looks like she’s just happy to be there.

Any time we had a lacrosse game in Georgia, we stayed with Amy’s parents.  They immediately welcomed me into their family, and her dad made sure I had an atlas in my car anytime I left their house.  Always be prepared…to make a fire because there’s no way I knew how to use that thing. Thank ya much, GPS.

Amy and I stayed friends throughout college. We had lots of adventures, and went on lots of trips.

This time we went to New Orleans where we conquered the art of beignet eating. We are dedicated to our craft.

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This time we went to Savannah where we mastered made it through crab cracking.

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Notice the look of hesitation on my face.

This time we went to dinner for Happy Birthday Crème Brule, and we took this picture every year after.

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And this time, we spent Spring Break in a retirement community.

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We also took a senior’s water aerobics class at said retirement community.  We did not have a swim cap, and we did not wear lipstick so we clearly stuck out.  We were however introduced to a lovely lady who attempted to set us up with her grandsons.  They don’t dance, but they’re handsome. Or so we’re told.

We went to lots of Auburn games.

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And, I belly laugh every time I’m with her.

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She’s really funny.

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Needless to say, we’ve had some pretty great times.  She is a constant source of encouragement and spurs me on.  She’s always helped me make a goal whether it’s for a trip or running a half marathon. And, she’s just really great.

And now, I’ll get to see her any time I want.  Because she’s moving to Huntsville!!

Last weekend, Amy and her husband, Austin (who is also great) made the trip to Huntsville to start looking for their new home. I know moving to a new place can be a little intimidating.

We didn’t feel completely at home until we found “our” Mexican place.  It’s the little things. The everyday routine things. That make you feel more settled.

In an effort to help them find “their” things and places, I made them an unofficial but equally great Welcome Basket.

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I made a trip to  the Visitor’s Center to get a few brochures. Who knew it would be so informative? P.S. The Chamber of Commerce has a relocation basket! So there really is an official Welcome Basket.

I filled the basket with information about things they can see, do, and taste.

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The basket would not be complete without a copy of the Huntsville Entertains cookbook. I bought this one at Harrison Brothers Hardware. I go there anytime I need a local gift.

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This is a beautiful cookbook that includes such great information about Huntsville.  I bought one for myself for Christmas, and one for my mom.  I can’t wait to start cooking my way through this one!

Amy’s basket also had some goodies from the Green Street Market. It was the first time I had been to the store. I told the person in the store that I wanted to get something “local” for friends, and she motioned to the entire store.

Every thing is local like this book. It lists all of the farms in Huntsville along with what they grow and their hours. I may have bought one for myself too.

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And, this little satchel of deliciousness is the Briar Patch Brew from a local favorite, Piper and Leaf.

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I included a few of the larger magazines on the bedside table for some bedtime reading.

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All in all, it was a pretty thorough welcome basket!

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We had a fantastic weekend with them, and I already have some goals for this summer. Amy is an expert goal maker, and I have a  feeling she’s going to love things like the Farmers Market, Concerts on the Dock, and kayaking with nack.

So, Welcome to Huntsville, Austin and Amy. We’re so glad you’ll be here soon!

 

Let’s Catch Up!

Hey, Friend!  It is so good to talk to you again.  The past week has been ca-razy! I have been sick for the past week, but after lots of prescriptions and orange juice I am almost back to normal!  I hated to miss talking to you over the past week because so much has happened!

Let’s start with the fact that our friends are having a baby…again!  We’ve been anxiously waiting to find out if our friends are having a girl or a boy, and last weekend, they let us in on the secret!

These friends are so special to us.  I met Alice when I worked at Auburn Christian Fellowship.  She was working with the sophomores, and I was working with the freshman.  She is a dreamer and an idealist to the core, and I love that about her. When I found out our potential new home was 2 minutes and 11 seconds from hers, I knew we’d found the one!

Almost two years ago, she and her husband asked us to get frozen yogurt then slyly slipped into the conversation that they were expecting their first child.  For the first gender reveal, Alice asked me to bake a cake, and I was honored to be one of the first people to find out about the little girl that was coming into the world.

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As I baked her cake, strawberry of course, I prayed over this child and her family, and was thrilled when I finally got to hold her.

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Now, we’re getting ready to meet her little BROTHER!  The gender reveal party was Valentine’s themed and we all brought a dessert to share.

I’ve been dying to make truffles so I pulled out the handy Ghiardelli chocolate cook book.

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The truffle recipe is deceptively simple, but oh so delicious.  I dipped them in blue and pink chocolate because we didn’t know the gender just yet.  But, I was pretty convinced Baby is a boy so we made a few extra blue. I’m so glad I did!

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We also got to go to a Super Bowl Party this year which was really just an excuse to make loaded potato skins.

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I am not a professional football fan.  And, I only love college football because I love Auburn.  When you’re not invested in the game at all, you want the food to be good! We had a great time, and now I can’t wait for the fall!

Since then, we’ve signed up for the Hot Chocolate 5K in Nashville, booked flights to DC for my cousin’s wedding, and scheduled a baby shower for friends.  This Spring is filling up quickly, and there will be lots to share as we go!

In the meantime, I’m dreaming of Valentine’s treats and our weekend in Nashville.

Thanks so much for stopping by today!  Let’s catch up again soon.

Brothers and Sisters

Brothers and sisters. I’ve always wanted them.  Thankfully, I came from a really big family with lots of cousins around. I never felt lonely, but I’ve always wanted my very own brothers and sisters.

Don’t get me wrong, being an only child definitely has its perks!  I am so thankful for the relationship I have with my parents. In our family photos, it’s just us! Which is pretty great.

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My husband, on the other hand, is one of four.  One of four loud, opinionated, amazing children.  Their family photos look a little different from mine.  Take a look at these guys! Seriously stylin’.

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They are funny and kind and sarcastic and honest and totally family oriented.  When I met them, the jokes immediately began, and I knew I was in! They treat me like one of the group, and I love calling them my brothers and sister.

We’ve had lots of fun, but that’s another story for another day.  What you need to know now, is that tomorrow night is sibling dinner and game night!

I love it when our house is loud and full, and when they come over it feels like the house expands.  Like the walls have to bow out a little to fit all of their personalities in one place.

We’re going to make tacos, eat lots of chocolate, and if I play my cards right, I may be able to talk them into Scattergories!

I can’t wait to show you how we set the table for the big night!  It has been so cold here, and I’m sick of it.  I want our table to use warm colors and feel cozy. Spicy tacos.  Warm table setting.  You can’t beat that.

I’m also going to share some of the recipes that we’ll use.  I hope you’ll come back for some of the recipes!  Like lava cake.  You’re going to want to come back for lava cake.

What is your favorite thing to do with your siblings?

Garden Club

Mim was the secretary of our local garden club.  I’m not sure what they did, but I do know that they had lunch each month.  Some of those months, I was fortunate enough to be “sick” and wasn’t able to go to school.   Off to Mim’s I’d go, and I’d watch in the kitchen while she polished silver and whipped caramel into a frenzy of frosting for cake.  “The fork goes here” she’d say, and then she’d send me into the dining room to set the table.  She’d go about her morning baking yeast rolls, checking on her congealed salad, and making flower arrangements from the flowers in her garden.

When the ladies arrived, the whole house filled with this amazing energy.  These women wore pearls and dresses, and talked about lovely things like their gardens or family recipes. Thankfully, I was always  miraculously healed just in time for the club meeting, and could watch all of this unfold.

Mim began each meeting by reading the minutes in her slow, Southern drawl. She read about things like the church floral arrangements and roses. Then, she would take to writing the notes in deliberate, scrolling cursive. She was the keeper of the garden club thoughts until the next meeting.

After each meeting, several of the women would not so stealthily sneak off to “steal” a cutting from my grandmother’s roses.  They said that to grow beautiful roses from a  cutting you had to steal the rose from someone else’s garden. If you asked to take the cutting, it would never grow.  Mim would politely turn her back to her roses and say goodbye to the other ladies while a group of them giggled and took snips of her roses.

Back inside, Mim and I would clear the table, washing each of her dishes by hand and returning them to the china cabinet.  We’d wrap the leftovers and wait for my mom to come home from work to eat leftovers with us and tell her all about the meeting.

Since moving from Dayton, I’ve had a strong desire to garden.  To grow something from the dirt.  To get my hands dirty and to grow something nourishing and beautiful. I started with a small plot in our back yard for vegetables. I’ve cherished having fresh herbs, fruits, and vegetables. We’ve made salsas, eaten lots of salads, and we split the few strawberries we saved from the rabbits. Each time I look at my front yard though, I realize it needs a little something.  A little softness and a little color.

I joined our local garden club to learn more about, you guessed it- gardening.  I don’t feel intimidated by vegetables, but flowers are a different story.  I’ve been a member since June, and I am learning so much-about flowers and life- from these women.  I can say, “I have a question about crepe myrtles, roses, plotting out my yard, whatever” and someone is certain to know the answer.

Our president came to my home a few weeks ago to walk around our yard pointing out what needs to be pruned or removed and how. Then, she helped me plot out new landscaping and left me with stacks of books to pick out flowers.  Nothing beats a gloomy day like looking at landscaping and gardening books!

I’m still deciding what I want in my front yard, but I am certain there will be roses.  Mim had shrub roses that looked wild and unruly and perfect! I know that I want something similar in my garden, and my new obsession is the Gartendirektor Otto Linne- which I learned about at a garden club meeting! It’s a shrub rose, and absolutely beautiful!  You should totally head over to Tuscan Rose or Hartwood Roses.  They both have beautiful photos of my new favorite rose, and lots more!

This month, we didn’t have a club meeting.  Instead, we met for lunch.  We ate lots of girly food, drank Mint Julep tea, and talked about new brunch places opening near our houses.  They answered all my questions, and always make me feel like a welcome member of the group. I feel so connected to Mim at each meeting, and I am so looking forward to starting my own garden. I’ll be sure to keep you updated and share lots of pictures!

Christmas Recap

Hi Friend!

I’m so glad you are here today, and so glad we can catch up!  Was your Christmas as crazy busy and fun as mine was? Oh, I hope it was!

As you know, the weeks before Christmas at our house were spent decorating and planning.  I’m sure your holidays went similarly! There’s so much I want to tell you!

You already know that I repaired our precious snowman ornament wreath.  I’ve embraced the colored lights outside, and added a little whimsy to the door.

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I updated our mantle using candy red and green touches.

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This really played up the whimsical colors outside and the colors of our living room.

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I loved these poinsettias!

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We hung our stockings by the chimney with care.

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I am so thankful to have such a crafty mother in law who made this stocking for me when I joined the family. Look at that detail!

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We chose a beautiful tree. Granted, it wasn’t from the cute tree lot, but it was a pretty great tree! Then we decorated it, of course! Our tree is a family tree.  There’s no theme, no rhyme or reason, just ornaments we’ve collected or been given throughout our lives.  They range from my husband’s childhood ornaments to ornaments we’ve accumulated on our travels! I was so excited to add our ornament from Neuschweinstein in Germany this year!

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All of this was really leading up to Christmas Eve Eve.  Every family celebrates Christmas Eve Eve, right? If you’re not celebrating it now, you should pencil it in for next year!

Back in Dayton, we attended a Christmas Eve Eve party with family friends each year.  Spending Christmas in Huntsville means that we miss the Christmas Eve Eve party each year. The only solution is to host our own Christmas Eve Eve party for our family!

Remember, the Christmas on the River table setting? It was very rustic and the food, served family style, was the focus of the table. We drew out the rustic elements of the china.

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I used the same china for our Christmas Eve Eve party, but wanted the table setting to reflect the party in Dayton.  The party in Dayton is truly Southern and simple, and I wanted to see that reflected in neutrals and natural elements.

I made centerpieces the night before the party.

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I’ll be the first to admit that I probably don’t give carnations the respect they deserve. When I think about carnations, I immediately think of grocery store flowers that have been forcibly died an unnatural shade of blue or pink, and I usually avoid them at all costs.  But something about these with green berries and cedar was just what I wanted for the table.  Touché, carnations.  I’ll give you a second look next time.

I used a burlap runner for the center of the table, then layered this with wood grain placemats, golden chargers, and our dinner plate. Same china, different way.

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I added smilax, magnolia, the centerpieces and mercury glass candle holders to the center of the table.  I’m so thankful I have parents that will drive all over our land finding smilax and walk between several magnolia trees just to find the right shaped leaf.

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You’ll notice that I almost always use low centerpieces.  When you’re right at 5 feet tall, you learn that seeing people across the table is important but sometimes difficult.  When there’s a huge (probably beautiful) centerpiece in the middle of the way, it’s pretty impossible to see across the table.

With, that our table was set!

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We did have to turn our tale to be able to fit everyone in the dining room.  It may not be the best design, but I think it’s a pretty great problem to have.  I’d gladly rearrange my dining room to be able to have all of my family comfortably around the table.

I’d love to hear about your Christmas decorations! I’m sure they were lovely.

I hope I’ll see you again soon! I can’t wait to tell you more about our Christmas Eve Eve dinner! I can’t begin to describe how delicious it was.

Weekend Recap-Christmas on the River

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Y’all, it really is the most wonderful time of the year! This weekend, my husband and I traveled to Dayton for Christmas on the River.  We were able to spend time with friends and get in some extra holiday time with my parents.  I wish I could bottle up that weekend, and keep it on a shelf. It was that good, and I’d go back right now, if I could!

We started the weekend right with tree decorating!  Tree decorating has a special place in my heart.  When you grow up in the woods, it feels a little silly to pay for a tree, or heaven forbid, have an artificial tree.  Each year for as long as I can remember, my dad would take me out on our land to find the perfect Christmas tree.

One year, when I was really into running, my dad followed me as I did a long run so that we could fit in running and looking for the tree before I had to go back to school.  That’s commitment- both to finding the perfect tree and spending time with your daughter!

When we looked for the perfect tree, Dad and I refused to be rushed.  We would spend as long as it took, riding through the fields (or running through Dayton) to find a tree that met my very particular standards.  Was the tree the right shape?  Did it have it have a sturdy trunk?  Was it 10 feet tall?  These were a few of my requirements.

Dad and I would walk around the tree making our comments as we decided if this would be THE tree.  If there were art critics for trees, we would be very qualified!  Once the tree was approved, he would chop it down, and load it in the truck.  Then, we’d take on the task of finding a tree for Mim.  A tree for a grandmother has to be very special, and we spent equal amounts of time finding her tree.

Every time we took the tree home, it was met with my mom’s disapproving look.   Each year we were warned, “Let’s see if we can find a shorter tree this year, ok?”.  It isn’t that she’s a Scrooge, but Dad and I are notorious for finding trees that are far too tall for our home and our family.   See above requirement re: tree height.  When you and your parents are each around 5′ tall, it’s a little ambitious to bring home a tree that’s twice as tall as you.  Most years only the bottom half of our tree was decorated.  It’s quirky, but lots of traditions are quirky.

After our tree was decorated, I’d set off by foot to Mim’s home.  She would make me hot chocolate, and I would spend the rest of the day at her house drinking hot chocolate and helping her decorate the tree.

This year, my dad passed the torch to Dan.  When it was time to find a tree for the camp house, Dad passed on his gloves and saw, and sent me and Dan to the perfect tree finding spot.  Dan and I easily fell into my old tree finding routine, taking our time, asking the important questions before deciding, and then cutting the tree for the camp house.  In this moment, I realized how great my husband is, and how thankful I am for the time my father spent with me.  I also appreciate Dad’s wisdom to wear thick long sleeve shirts and gloves.  We did not, and we learned the hard way that a cedar tree is pretty prickly.

When we got into Dayton late Friday night, Dad was up waiting for us and we quickly began decorating the tree with our friends.  We covered the tree in burlap garland, cloth covered ornaments, and a huge burlap bow!

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Thanks to my friend, Megan (that’s not confusing at all), who made a beautiful bow! My mother in law made the tree skirt many years ago for her family, and graciously gave it to us last year as we started our own Christmas traditions!

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Saturday morning began with breakfast, as it always should!

We had coffee cake, sausage pinwheels, cherry almond granola, yogurt and fruit.  This was supposed to be a light breakfast so we could have plenty of room for Chicken on a Stick, but I’m not sure it met that requirement.

The table setting was so rustic and inviting.  We were able to use simple greenery and pinecones from Dayton to decorate the center of the table.  We sat at the table for a long time!  When there’s good food and good conversation, it’s hard to leave. I had an overwhelming feeling that Olive would have loved this breakfast.  We always had Christmas breakfast at her house, and it felt so natural to do that again.

We also hung “joy” in the kitchen .  It seemed like the perfect word to describe our weekend, and hanging it in the kitchen seemed obvious.  After all, that’s where we spent most of our time and where we had some great conversations.  I’m not surprised that Olive’s kitchen is still hosting great conversations and time with friends.

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After breakfast, it was time for the Children’s Day Parade in Demopolis.  Remember that Tweety Bird photo I shared?  Well, there was more paper mache goodness this year!

Check out this fantastic float and precious Olaf!

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After the parade, we headed to the square for Fair in the Square.  What’s a fair without fair food?  The clear winner of our group’s vote was Chicken on a Stick and funnel cake!

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We went for a long walk when we got back to the camp house.  It was much needed after all of the delicious food we ate! This is a sign of a good and muddy walk!

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Then, it was time to go back to Demopolis to see the Floats that Really Float!  The elves lead the parade each year, and I feel like it is officially the Christmas season now that I’ve seen them! The weather was just the right amount of chilly for watching the floats, and they looked beautiful this year!

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Back at the camp house, it was time for hot chocolate! We had a hot chocolate bar, watched White Christmas (a classic) and played Catch Phrase.

Our hot chocolate bar consisted of mini marshmallows, jumbo marshmallows, whipped cream, chocolate sauce, caramel sauce, candy canes, and pirouette cookies.  I threw in some Oreo truffles and brownies for good measure. I will not judge you for the amount of sugar you put into your hot chocolate.  If elves can stick to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corn, and syrup, then you can add as much sugar as you want to your hot chocolate during Christmas.

Sunday morning consisted of sleeping in, another huge breakfast, and spending more time with friends.

 

It was really hard to leave.  But, seeing this perfect wreath and front porch decorations as we drove away made that a little better!

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I can hardly wait for more time with our friends and family!  I am so looking forward to having them in our home for Christmas!

I hope you enjoyed the trip to Dayton for Christmas on the River! I am so thankful you were able to come along through Mim and Olive, and hope that you’ve gotten a glimpse of one of my favorite Christmas traditions!

Check in with Mim and Olive again this week.  I’ll be sharing the rest of the recipes we used for our breakfasts this weekend, how I made the cloth ornaments, and more decorating plans!