sweet day.

Happy Halloween, friends! Hope your day is full of tricks, treats and all things sweet.
Wish I had carved out some time to make a batch of these for tonight's walk down the street with my tiny dancer on her first Halloween. Hope you have a fun day!


on the brain: christmas stockings.

I've been waiting for a little person to arrive in my life so I could re-think our Christmas stockings, and now that we have a new little family of three, I've been doing some window shopping. Here's what I've found so far.
{From Pottery Barn :: Channel Quilted Velvet Stocking and Reindeer Woodland Stocking}
{From Suzanne Kasler's Collection at Ballard Designs :: Burlap Stocking and Linen Stocking}
I like what I'm seeing, but I'm not in love. I'm as particular about the personalized embroidery as I am about the actual stocking, and it's hard to find something really special... which is why I'm toying with the idea of making stockings for our family. My mom needlepointed (is that a word?) our Christmas stockings, and there's something really special about having something made, just for you, for the most special time of the year.

I thought it might be nice to keep up with the tradition my mom started, but it would involve several hours and re-learning how to sew. I may have already made a trip to Jo-Ann's to get some fabric inspiration. I might even use something I've clipped on Pinterest.

Wheels = turning. Or, maybe this is all crazy talk. But it would be a fun project. I think.

PS: links to stockings welcome, if you have found any you love!


mom milestone: DIY tutu (aka Mari's first halloween costume).

When I say 'mom milestone,' this one is a milestone for my mom. She's the one responsible for this DIY. While this was a bit of a collaboration, this DIY is as easy as they come - one person need only apply. Unless you have a baby too tiny to stand on her own, and measuring her little belly requires four hands.
Until kids are old enough to know what Halloween is, this holiday really is about what you want them to be, isn't it? So, this should come as no surprise to those who know me best - Mari will be a ballerina for her first halloween. I mean, look at her - she's even got a little bit of a turnout going and she doesn't even know it.

Tutus are everywhere these days, but you can make your own in no time and for very little $, and it's exactly how you want it. Here's what you need:
+ one spool of tulle, which comes in all sorts of fun colors
+ 1/2" band of elastic
+ fabric scissors
+ needle + thread (or sewing machine if you have one)

Here's whatcha do:
1. Measure your tiny dancer and cut elastic to appropriate length. Give yourself an extra inch or two.

2. Measure how long you want the skirt to be, double that measurement and start cutting pieces of tulle. Don't go nuts - cut two dozen or so at a time.

3. Take two pieces of tulle, bend them in half and place the loop just above the elastic band.
Note: for a thinner skirt, you can use a single piece of tulle, but we like pouf in this house so we doubled up.

4. Swoop the loop of the tulle over one side of the elastic and pull the loose ends through, a la step four in my DIY on gift tags.
4. Pull tightly on the loose ends of the tulle to make a knot.
5. Slide it on down the elastic (you want the knots really bunched up).
6. Repeat steps three through five until you have something magical, like this.
7. Once it's ready to wear, measure it again on your little subject and stitch the ends of the elastic band together with needle and thread, or a sewing machine.

I just love tulle, and I'm thinking she might need one for every holiday. Srsly.


pretty, classic pieces.

The Ethan Allen catalog arrived in our mailbox last week, and I'm loving their beautiful pieces, like...
{brant chair}
{clear glass table lamp}
{antique black clover table}
{genevieve baker's rack}
Happy weekend, all. Next week - come back for details on a little DIY for Mari's first halloween!


welcome, fall.

Fall finally arrived in our house, just a few days later than last year. Part of me was a little stubborn to let go of summer, being that it was the most wonderful one of my life and all.
But, on with my favorite season - there's so much goodness on Fall's list - and I'm glad I got to check something off, finally. I was inspired by Whitney, who just days after giving birth, has a cozy, Autumn aurora going on at their house, and it feels good.

With a few purchases at the local market, I brought some warmth in to our home with flowers, pumpkins, candles and some recycled crafts from last year.
My new favorite place to decorate is our entryway / stairwell. It needs some love after the holidays. I'm thinking more lanterns.


fun, primarily.

It's amazing what my friends can do, really. The same group of gals that threw my french-themed fete outdid themselves again, this time, showering Erin and her husband, Mike, in a co-ed, primary color paradise at a miniature golf course. 
As we've grown up together over the past 15 years, we've all married, some have babies, some have some on the way and showers aren't just a girlfriend production. They now involve some heavy lifting and creativity from the men in our world, and in this case, I was especially thankful for two in particular, who helped pull this together and made it easy - so easy - on all of us. 

'Twas a splendid day of golf, pizza, beer, cake and good, good friends. And some cute, cute details, for which I can take no credit, but I am going to share. 
How to make a random party room at a miniature golf course look FAB (and save some $ while doing it):

+ cutest table runners: long rectangles of astro turf
+ garland lined with clothespins
+ diaper cakes
+ lots of balloons (tip: rent a helium tank and DIY)
+ spray painted tees
+ spray-painted golf balls (tips: local course provided used driving range balls for free (just ask!), and Amanda used an egg carton to help make spray painting easy, a la Easter egg decorating)
+ cake from Becker's, of course
+ also: cute DIY-printed invitation (not photographed) made easy by Etsy

A lot of thought, care and planning went into a really fun day on Saturday. And btw, I forgot how fun miniature golf is with a group of pals. It was a lot like a really fun date night set in high school, minus Bananarama

We're so excited for Baby U. Congratulations, Erin and Mike!


impromptu sunday edition.

Just because last night's sunset was too beautiful not to photograph, nor not to share.
With Mari in tow, in our favorite baby carrier, our Saturday night stroll on The Strand was the definition of perfect beach October. Happy Sunday, all.



It's me, reporting from cloud nine, as we welcome my newest nephew to the family, Carson David. My brother's wife Whitney gave birth to the most beautiful baby boy in the wee morning hours yesterday, and he's just perfect. And as I salivate over all the details of this little boy, the new-ness of life and these precious first few hours, I'm reminded of the miracle that is Mari, the joy she has brought us (I mean - look at those toes!) and what a gift being a mother really is.
In a few weeks, I return to my day job - my life before motherhood - and just the thought of it, or even a quick glance at my baby girl, has me a little twisted inside to leave behind this special time and move on without her by my side. As with most transitions, I don't have the easiest time when they surface, and this one feels like it's going to be the toughest yet.

Being a mother has completely enveloped me in a way that I did not expect. I love it as much as it makes me crazy, and finding the balance of who I am as a mom, and who I am - isn't easy for me. The two are now one, and I need some gentle reminders here and there that it's okay to let go and just be. Maybe finding myself in work is going to help me balance being a better parent. That's at least what I'm going to tell myself.

I can do this.

So, for the next few weeks, I'm going to love every second of Mari and me time. I'll write to her in a journal I started just after her birth. I'll take lots of pictures. Sneak in a little yoga. Breathe. Re-read The Guest House. Find some business-like clothes that fit (yikes). And be grateful. For her and for sweet Carson, who will forever be her big brother in life.

Congratulations, dear brother and sis. I'm so happy for you it hurts, in the best-est way you can ever imagine. We are so blessed!


weekend snaps.

Today is gray at the beach, which is the opposite of the beautiful October weather we had over the weekend. Come this time of year, vacationers have gone home, The Strand has a bit more breathing room and it's a special time at the beach. It's usually crystal clear during the day, with crisp weather in the evenings, and it makes the transition from summer to fall just beautiful. We may not have leaves changing color around here, but we've got a pretty good view (and rumor has it we're due for 80-degree weather later this week!).
And, around the house, window boxes are thriving, thanks to my mom for replanting over the summer and giving them lots of love...
... and we're enjoying pillows she gave new life, using some old 16x16" down fillers and one of my favorite fabrics that I'd saved for way too long. It's one of Mary's favorites, too.
They are a perfect match for our Kooboo Wicker Chairs. Like?


yummy sunflower hand-ties.

Last week was a big week. We enjoyed our first family vacation, right on the heels of Erin's baby shower. We had a lot of fun going on in our world.
My mom and I had such a good time party prepping; she took the lead on the food, and I on the floral decor. We used bright, Provencal linens throughout the house and paired them with mason jar-filled sunflowers. And, with the invitations as inspiration, we had a little farm animal theme going to compliment with colorful details.
I used big sunflowers and my favorite filler, alstroemeria, with loads of greenery from my mom's garden - varigated pittosphorum, ligustrum, silver sheen and lemon leaves.

I opted for hand-ties; they look simple and home-grown in mason jars and I think they're the easiest and prettiest way to arrange, but I didn't know any of this until I spent an hour with our wedding florist, the fabulous Jenny of Magical Blooms. Learn how to hand tie and you'll never go back.
We finished off the party with my mom's signature sugar cookies, in animal shapes, of course.

Congratulations, Erin and Mike. We're anxious to meet your little person next month!

PS: super cute, plush Fun on the Farm Animal Stacker available here.


lobster & shells.

When we were sort of, well, drowning in the challenges (and, of course, bliss) of the first few weeks of Mari's life, my mom made this delicious BC salad that was refreshing and such a good taste of summer - which is what we really needed in the craze of baby.
Just before our first family vacation, we made Lobster & Shells for my dear friend's baby shower, and it's as good as it is pretty, especially when accompanied by crusty herb bread and another BC favorite: Watermelon and Arugula Salad.

It's also easy; the pasta shells and the corn cook together, and you can buy the lobster in bulk, cooked and frozen (hello, Costco). Topped with fresh dill, this salad is a little taste explosion in your mouth that you will love. Promise.
Hurry up and get your tomato and corn* fix in before it gets too late.

Lobster & Shells from The Barefoot Contessa's How Easy Is That? (page 94)
Serves 8

Kosher salt
Olive oil
1/2 pound small past shells, such as Ronzoni
Kernels from 4 ears of corn (about 3 cups)
6 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
1 yellow or orange bell pepper, seeded and small-diced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 pound cooked fresh lobster meat, medium-diced
3/4 cup good mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
Freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup minced fresh dill

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add 1 tablespoon of salt and some olive oil. Add the pasta and cook it for 8 to 10 minutes, until al dente. Add the corn to the pasta and cook it for another 2 minutes, until the corn is tender. Drain the pasta and the corn together in a colander and pour them into a large mixing bowl. Add the scallions, diced pepper, tomatoes and lobster, tossing gently to combine. Allow to cool slightly.

In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper until smooth. Pour over the pasta and mix well to bind the ingredients. Stir in the dill, 4 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper.

Cover with plastic wrap and chill for up to 6 hours to allow the flavors to develop. Check the seasonings and serve chilled or at room temperature. We topped ours with a little extra fresh dill just before serving.
In her cookbook, The BC offers a couple of side notes:
+ Use small pasta shells so that the corn kernels can get stuck inside them.
+ If the sauce is too thick after it's chilled, add a few tablespoons of milk, cream or lemon juice to thin.

I've got a few more details to come on the baby shower later this week!

*A quick tip on cutting fresh corn from the cob: Place one small bowl, upside down, in a large bowl. Using the small bowl as your stage, stand cob upright and slice the corn right down into your large bowl. No more flying kernels!