Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Ice Cream Social

"Summer afternoon -- summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language." ~ Henry James

The heat of late summer is the perfect time for relaxed entertaining, and an ice cream social is an easy way to churn up some fun. With only one dish to prepare, you don't have to move out of vacation mode to prepare a fussy meal.

Just toss some bottled waters into a bucket of ice, set out napkins, and sweep the front porch. Then invite neighbors to take a break from walking the dog or mowing the lawn for an impromptu gathering.

Invite neighbors to spend a leisurely afternoon on the porch, chatting about the latest local happenings while the children run through the sprinklers in the front yard.

A few simple details dress up these ice cream cones. Cute scrapbook paper cone wrappers are easy to make using the waffle cone wrapper as a template. Whipped cream, raspberries and lemon zest hint at the flavors inside this Raspberry Lemonade Ice Cream recipe, and paper straws add the finishing touch.

Fun decorations elevate this refreshing dessert to an ice cream party. Coordinating bunting, napkins and flowers repeat the pink lemonade theme. Repurposed containers allow for fun cone displays, like this silverware caddy added to the display just before serving.

With a great ice cream recipe, dressed up cones and colorful decorations, you can turn a simple ice cream social into the social event of the season. Stop in tomorrow for my refreshing Raspberry Lemonade Ice Cream recipe.

And speaking of summer treats, tomorrow I will announce the winner of this giveaway for a signed copy of the recently-released Victoria Classics special issue, 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A Tour of Our House

This month finds us sifting through more than a decade of memories as we prepare to relocate to Birmingham. Our house was listed this month, and we are hopeful that the right family will fill it with love. You have been invited into our home many times over the years for birthday parties and holidays, but I realize I've never really given you a proper tour. Today I am offering a peek into the main floor.

Nestled on more than 2 acres in Wetumpka, this house has been a welcoming retreat for our family. Joe found this property when we moved to Montgomery. I was initially reluctant to look outside the city, but my heart skipped a beat when we rounded the corner and this house came into view. Most of the property is wooded, which gives the property a tranquil, private feel.

A staircase greets you as you step into the foyer. Framed baby photos remind me of the toddlers who learned to maneuver these stairs through the years. It is bittersweet to know that my four children won't ever run down these stairs again to discover surprises left under the tree on Christmas morning. May this home always be filled with the pitter-pat of little feet. 

To the left of the stairs is my sitting room. I had planned to add wainscoting, a pretty rug and custom drapes to this room, but even without these details it has been a feminine sanctuary for me.

Besides offering a welcome spot for pausing for quiet contemplation or enjoying a cup of tea, this sitting room provides a lovely space for my sewing room.

A curbside-found desk positioned in view of the bay windows makes a perfect sewing table. I still need to refinish this French Provincial piece, but you can catch a glimpse of the "before" version in the photo above. So many afternoons I worked on sewing projects while watching expectantly for the school bus to rumble into the neighborhood.

Our dining room sits across the hall. One of my favorite views in this house is taking a peek into our sitting room through the dining room mirror.

You have seen this room many times over the years. I have kept the colors neutral, which has allowed it to function well for a variety of holiday gatherings and parties.

This simple space has been a ballet studio, candy shoppe, movie theater and cupcakery in the past few years. We have made so many memories here. May the next family that lives here enjoy a spirit of celebration.

This open, airy space has been a treasured gathering space for family and friends. Soaring ceilings and expansive windows make the family room a wonderful place to relax. This open floor plan accommodates crowds, as well. We invited more than 50 of Joe's students out last fall and enjoyed serving them dinner.

Here is another view of our family room, ready to offer respite from the cares of the day.

Beyond the windows, a picket fence surrounds a glittering blue pool. We have spent so many blistering July days in the cool of this water. Lying on a float looking up into the treetops and watching the clouds drift by is my definition of an ideal summer afternoon.

Joe has worked through the years to cultivate our outdoor spaces. Crepe myrtles line the fence around the pool, and in natural areas around the property you will find hydrangeas, azaleas and camellias blooming in turn.

Through these doors, we enter the kitchen. French doors also lead from the pool area to our master bedroom, which is the next stop on our tour.

My husband is very patient to allow so many floral prints in our bedroom. This is one of my favorite spaces in our home. Special furniture pieces include, from left to right, a secretary and desk chair; rolled-arm bench; and wing chair that belonged to Joe's late grandparents. The plates that hang above the bed were a gift from my sister-in-law. She found the plates in an antique store and loved that they were painted in 1899, a hundred years before our son Carson was born. The bedside lamps were fashioned from crystal vases. On my bedside table, you will find a stack of Victoria magazines. And spread across the foot of the bed, my favorite coverlet is a pink toile quilt I purchased years ago from Victoria Fair. My mother-in-law sewed our chintz bed skirt and pillow shams, and I made the curtains on our windows and canopy, as well as the round tablecloth.

I felt at home as soon as I entered this house for the first time, and I could hardly sleep that first night for arranging our furniture in my mind. I am praying that a sweet little family will be as smitten with this property as I was and will decide to make it their home. I will keep you updated on our future! And in the meantime, if you are looking for a haven near Montgomery, Ala., I have just the address for you.

"Now in a cottage full of lilacs and laughter, I know the meaning of the words 'ever after.' " -- Unknown

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Independence Day!

Last year found us on the beach for the Fourth of July, but this year I am just as happy to be at home relaxing with my family. Wherever you are today, I hope your celebration includes food, family and fireworks. Have a safe and happy holiday weekend!

"This, then, is the state of the union: free and restless, growing and full of hope. So it was in the beginning. So it shall always be, while God is willing, and we are strong enough to keep the faith." ~ Lyndon B. Johnson

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Make a Button Monogram

Yesterday I shared the new Victoria Classics special interest publication, Monograms. (Enter here to get your name in the teacup for a complimentary copy of this issue signed by Editor-in-Chief Phyllis Hoffman DePiano.) While we're on the subject of artistic personalization, I wanted to share this button monogram I stitched earlier this year. I made it to use as decoration for Mary Ashley's Birthday Craft Fair, but I love it so much I have kept it in my sitting room, which is also my sewing room.

For this project, I drew a script M on linen fabric with a blue fabric pen. I sewed an overlapping line of inexpensive plastic buttons over the letter, then filled out the design by stitching on a variety of buttons. I mounted the completed design to a self-stick mounting board I found in the embroidery section at Hobby Lobby and framed the piece in a discarded frame.

The frame I used was originally gold. While I no longer favor the brassy tone, the pattern seemed to suit the button monogram. So I used a little watered-down acrylic paint to whitewash the frame.

Now this monogram is cute as a button and a perfect accent for my sewing room.

"Buttons and patches and the cold wind blowing,
The days pass quickly when I am sewing."
~ Author Unknown

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Victoria Classics Monograms Giveaway

"No household, however humble, need be without the refining influence of dainty environments." ~ Adelaide E. Heron

I am so pleased to share our latest Victoria Classics issue, a beautiful special interest publication called Monograms that hits newsstands today. Filled with breathtaking linens, exquisite antique silver, and innovative personalization ideas, it is a book you will want to savor. This issue is very special to me because I did much of the research and writing. One of the blessings of this project was getting to work closely with Victoria Editor-in-Chief Phyllis Hoffman DePiano. She is a dynamo -- and as personable and creative as you would imagine her to be. Phyllis has graciously agreed to give a signed copy of Monograms to a reader of A Little Loveliness.

To enter this giveaway for a copy of Monograms, leave a separate comment for each entry you choose.

(1) Leave a comment telling me about a favorite monogrammed find.
(2) Leave a comment if you follow ALL on my sidebar or on Facebook.
(3) Follow Victoria on Facebook.

I will announce the winner soon. In the meantime, look for Victoria Classics Monograms on the newsstand!

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