Friday, December 31, 2010

...have a Happy New Year!

May this new year bring you experiences you never thought possible, the good health to enjoy them, rich fortunes of the heart, and the warmth and company of those you love.

With love,

Friday, December 24, 2010

...Merry Christmas.

"The children were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of sugar plums danced in their heads."

Merry Christmas.
May you be warm and safe in the company of those you love this Christmas Eve.

With love, Pat and Lexie

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

...the package.

I always love card shopping and am always finding new ones to add to my collection. I look at them as individual pieces of art. I feel a little guilty though, especially at the holidays, sending one that I didn't make myself. So...I try to incorporate them into the gifts that I make each year. This year I found 2 cards that were just perfect for giving all my baked treasures. After's all in the packaging. And those who know me best, know that I am a sucker for packaging! The card above, with the mouse baking and the great sentiment,was just too perfect on top of the boxes I gave as gifts to my friends who were at the Christmas Dinner. The smaller version below worked out great for the girls from the book club. I had found the card during the summer and it summed up our "No Guilt Book Club" perfectly!
Use the outside of the box as a template for the bottom layer of decorative paper.
I used small mini muffin paper liners to hold the cookies.
Layer the heaviest cookies on the bottom. I used my Toffee Bars.

Cut a piece of chip board the same size as the bottom decorative layer. This will act as the bottom of the next layer of cookies. I used a round decorative punch to cut out a section on the side. This makes it easier to remove and get to the layer below.
Use the lightest cookies for the top layer. If your box is deep enough for additional layers, just start from heaviest to lightest. These are sugar cookie snowflakes and Nighty Nights!

Use what ever card or decorative paper suits the occasion for the top of the box, tie with a bow and your done! There are plenty of box companies out there on line to choose from. I've found that Paper Source has a really great selection of interesting shapes and sizes and have a substantial weight to them. Not especially expensive either. Baked gifts are such a treat and take time, energy, and love...however you choose to gift them should be as special as what is inside. Happy baking, and Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 17, 2010 lulalina.

click on image to enter site

It's hard to believe, but after countless months (and months) of designing, redesigning, screaming at the computer, injections of caffeine, a few cocktails, and a definite self diagnosis of compulsive obsessive disorder and adult ADD...Lulalina is finally launched. It happened last night with just a whisper and the click of a button. I don't know what I expected...balloons dropping from the ceiling, confetti, perhaps the popping of champagne? Oh, but there goes my fantasy life real life it was just me staring at the computer screen a bit choked up and definitely overwhelmed. This was the biggest DIY project I had ever taken on and I still can't believe I actually did it!
A HUGE thank you goes out to all those who had to live through all the madness and were there EVERY step of the way. I am constantly thankful for all the amazing design minded people in my life, whose opinions I value more than I let them know.
Of of the biggest thank you's goes out to
Patricia van Essche, PVE Design. It is she, who with just an e-mail and a few phone calls, created the design and logo for Lulalina. It continues to amaze me each time I look at her illustration, how she captured the exact essence of what I wanted to portray. She is truly an amazing artist and there will be more about her and her work in an upcoming post.
For now, I am feeling a great release for finishing a task I wasn't sure I could tackle and for sending it out onto the world wide web.
Here is a holiday toast to the birth of Lulalina!

Monday, December 13, 2010

...a man and his dog.

I just came from dropping off Greg, my closest friend of 30 years (which really puts him in the family/sibling category) at the airport. He is on his way back home to Panama, where he moved to a few years ago to work on creating his own magical place on this earth. When he is here in the States, he stays with me and my dog Lexie. This last trip kept him here with us for a year and a half. And for a year and a half Lexie has had her own special best friend. Someone to be at home with her all day while I was work... someone to take her on daily hikes with her tail wagging friends... someone to give her extra treats... and someone to love on her all day long just because...well... just because. And for that year and a half Greg has had a companion to garden with...a face full of slobbery kisses every morning when he awoke... a partner to run errands with, who was content to just hang her head out the window and feel the wind in her ears...and a year and a half of pure, unconditional love. The kind of love that only comes from our four legged friends.
They will miss each other tremendously.
Lexie patiently sat at home this last week as all of us human friends had our good bye celebrations, knowing in our rational minds that it would only be months until we all saw each other again. She lay on his bed all week and watched the closet get emptier as the suitcase got fuller, bulging at the seams. I know, as we all do, that our dogs sense change, and somehow are keenly aware of the hidden message behind our suitcases. I wonder if tonight as the three of us set off in the car, she knew it would just be the two of us coming home. After he and I hugged at the curb, he asked me to hold his things while he opened the door and said his goodbyes to Lexie. It broke my heart to see the two of them...him a bit teary, and she full of canine kisses. I know he's coming back in what will seem like the blink of an eye, but there is no way for me to let her know that by summer her companion will be back at the other end of her leash. They say dogs live in the moment and I am sure to some degree that is true, but I also know that for a little while, Lexie will wonder where her friend has gone, probably sleep on his bed, and wonder why she's not getting as many biscuits as she thinks she deserves...
She will bounce back though, for our dogs are nothing if not resilient creatures, and I can already see her tail wagging frantically as we pull up curbside next summer to pick up her favorite two legged best friend.

Sunday, December 12, 2010 evening with friends and family

In my fantasy mind, which is far more organized than my real life mind, I thought I would somehow have the time to post daily quips about the activities leading up to the big holiday dinner. Well, as you know, that never happened and the day came upon me faster than I could type... Merry Christmas. And so, I will leave it up to your imagination...flour flying, boughs trimming, ribbons bowing, and cake cooking! Here are a few images of the wonderful evening to come from all the glorious and frenzied preparation. Every year I say... "this is the last one." But after all the candles are lit, fire is crackling, and the wine has been poured I look around at the friends and family gathered together and know that I will do it all again in a heartbeat. As the inscription says on my new punch bowl, given to me by one of my most closest friends....
" Together with friends and family is always the happiest place to be."

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

...butter, and flour, and sugar...oh my!

...three days and counting, and it's all about baking. For all the years I have mixed, whipped, kneaded, and folded, I am always amazed at what these 3 simple ingredients can transform into. For me baking is more that just the sum of it's actions. If your patient, and can follow directions, almost anyone can bake. It's a kind of chemistry. Measure the ingredients carefully, mix together, bake and a magical transformation occurs. I believe though, it's more than that. It's more about the items you don't find in any recipe. I cup of caring, a pinch of love, a teaspoon of self. And a bit of chocolate never hurts. A lot of myself goes into what I bake and hopefully into the hearts of the recipients of my labor. The next couple of days are about the treasure boxes of love and care that will be my Christmas gifts to those I love.
And of course I'll be sure to take out all the calories!

Monday, December 6, 2010

...Four Christmas Trees and a Mantle.

Nature Tree in the Living Room

Dining Room Tree - Antique Ornaments and Chandelier crystals

Kitchen Tree

Shiny Brite Tree in the TV room

Living Room Mantle

...four days and counting! While I make my lists and check them twice (and thrice), and work on the menus, and re design the table again, and again, and maybe throw in a batch of Christmas can sit back with a cup of coco and take a quick peak at the trees scattered about the house. A wee house, but very tree worthy. After all - "tis the season".

Sunday, December 5, 2010

...countdown to a holiday dinner party.

And so it begins... the countdown to my annual Holiday Dinner Party. Each year, my Christmas gift to my friends is an over the top, culinary and sensory extravaganza. Ten of us get together to spend the evening reminiscing about the year almost over, and to fill each other with hope and promise for the new year to come. The invitations have been sent and all have RSVP'd. Now comes the frenzy to pull it all together, and I thought this year I would share the whole experience with you. So...we'll start with the invitations and count down each day this week until the big event on Saturday. 5 days and counting...
This years invites were inspired by my dining room chandelier and one of my most favorite Christmas stories by Alan Le Grock. Stumped creatively in the beginning, I was off and running once I found the gorgeous hand made silver and turquoise paper ... I used silver embossing power with a beautiful chandelier stamp and hand applied jewels for some of the crystals on top of quartz shimmer paper. I attached The Chandelier story with an antiqued silver jewel brad. You can read the story here. It is a sweet and touching Christmas tale that I think about each year as my friends and I sit down to celebrate the season.
Stay tuned this week, for a wild ride of decorating, baking, cooking, and creating!!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

...Happy Halloween.

Whoever's porch you are traveling to tonight...Have a safe and Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

...A Sunday visit to the stables.

There is something about the outside of a horse
that is good for the inside of a man.

~Winston Churchill

Monday, October 4, 2010

...retail therapy and a velvet pumpkin.

Every holiday season starts with the same inward conversation. "Look, but don't buy...You have enough", I tell myself. Boxes and boxes of Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and all the holiday trimmings in between. After all, I can't imagine there could be anything out there that I don't already have. Well...never say never.
I ventured out Sunday afternoon, with a dear friend visiting from the East Coast, for a bit of retail therapy. The Indian Summer heat wave had recently ended, and the air had the touch of a crisp fall chill. Great for window shopping and the first Pumpkin Spice Latte of the season. Off we went to visit some of my favorite spots here in my little corner of the world. Hidden little gems far from the pages of the more over shopped "catalog" establishments. We were doing quite well until our last stop,
Ellington and French. A magical corner store that fulfills my every fantasy about what it must be like to live in Provence. I never leave there without a wistful sigh...speaking of leaving...we were almost out the door when my friend spotted these fantastical velvet pumpkins of varying sizes gracing the porcelain plates and saucers of the front window display. One look and I knew...there was no way I could resist these little puffs of art that looked like they were straight from the pages of a fairy tale. The toughest part was which one. Now for anyone who has ever gone Christmas Tree shopping with me, you know...I am all about the perfect choice. At times it can be a painstaking process and many a friendship has been tested by my design neurosis. One look at these photos and you can see I made the right decision.
Oh, and as for not buying anything new this season...well, after all, who doesn't need a little velvet pumpkin?

Friday, October 1, 2010

...think Pink!

{image via Feel Your Boobies}

From Pink Petals to Pink noses...October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Be aware of your knowledgeable...and be proactive!
For more information, click on the Feel Your Boobies link above!


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