The Perfect Centerpiece

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As we begin to turn the corner toward Fall--yes, I'm already looking toward cooler temperatures and more holiday spirit--I was considering how spending another holiday season in our home would feel. My son is walking now, asking questions, getting into things, and wanting to try new foods. He's like a sponge. What will he absorb?

Of course, my mind reverts back to things that were important to me as a child. Talking to friends and acquaintances, I've noticed a trend.

My sister-in-law is pretty different from me; in fact, we could be viewed as polar opposites. However, there are similarities you just cannot overlook. One of them is her memories of childhood.

Shannon is Italian--or, rather, her mother is! Her memories as a child include an Italian mother who would spend an entire day preparing the Christmas meal...or any special meal. The sauce had to be tended for hours, seeping in delicious ingredients, filling the house with smells that now are a source of comfort to her.

Shannon's mother would--and still does--spend hours in the kitchen preparing the best lasagna you've ever put into your mouth. And her spaghetti and meatballs take several days to create...but you've never tasted anything like it!

Today, Shannon is a mother instilling memories in her own child. While she correlates the holidays with the aroma of Italian manna and a mama happily singing in the kitchen all day, I wonder what special memories she is passing on to her son.

For me, a certain corner of my childhood memories also relates to large family meals. My grandparents' house was the meeting place for holidays and every holiday season, I remember the hustle and bustle of four aunts, my grandmother, and my papa all jostling around the stove, the oven, the fridge, and the snack bar, each helping to prepare a glorious feast!

I remember the smells of the kitchen and papa giving us cousins a taste every now and then. I remember him making us "snow" ice cream to get us out from under foot too! And then, there's the time every adult was so busy that no one noticed us sliding a finger across the icing of grandma's red velvet cake! And then another finger...and another...until it was pretty patchy! We tried to smear and stretch the icing but you could still see the cake beneath! Whoops!

The kitchen--even in the fairly modern times that were my childhood--was the hub of the home. Include, if you will, the grill out in the backyard where my dad would grill up some mean steaks or the homemade ice cream maker that Grandpa sat out on the porch so it wouldn't leak in the house and you just about have the magical kitchen en totale.

Our world is now filled with magazines promoting various decor, this centerpiece over that one, how to fold napkins...but the most memorable centerpiece for me was the food itself and the fun of its preparation. Those holidays were about good food, enjoyment as a family engaged in a common activity, talking about the day without the interference of technology or bustling crowds; it was about grandma's heritaged linens on the table and the memories they stirred in her that she would share as she cautioned us not to spill; it was about clearing the table together so we could all gather around the same table to play card games until the early morning hours. It was about family, experience, enjoyment, and timelessness.

As holidays roll around...or as life speeds up with responsibilities...or as technology offers more and more distractions...Don't let the perfect centerpiece disappear. The most beautiful gift you can give your children is timeless enjoyment with you...where nothing and no one trumps the little stories they want to tell, where their merry grin and twinkling eyes can hold yours rather than competing with your texts rolling in, where food and fun and love hold a special place in your life simply because you love those you experience them with! Let your family be the centerpiece!


Just Blessed

We live in a world where what we have is never considered enough and, thanks to Pinterest and racks full of women's magazines, we're being convinced that our homes need a full make-over about every 3 months...not to mention our bodies!

I just read an absolutely beautiful blog post that puts it all into perspective though! Check this out!

Momastery "Give Me Gratitude or Give Me Debt"


Contour by Color

It's amazing how much emphasis we place on the shape of our bodies as women. Whether it's Hollywood, BodyWorks gym, or even our brothers and sisters, it seems that we are constantly on the old medieval stretching rack trying to be formed into some better person's shape just so that we can feel acceptable.

When I was younger, my mother always told me to enjoy being super thin...about size 0 thin! I hated not having curves and it always seemed that the clothes we purchased were made for someone else even if they were the correct size. Designers apparently are only acquainted with people with hourglass shapes!

Since having our sweet boy, I'm a bit fluffier and now may have a bit too much curve...unfortunately, it still isn't hourglass by any measure!

Funny story, one of our youth mentioned the other day that I dance and bounce around a bit more while I'm singing since I've had Ethan. I had to admit that I didn't bounce more...I just have more fluff to bounce when I'm trying to keep time with the music. I thought it was quite funny although it could have been disastrous if I weren't happy just being me!

So, how do you cope with not being contoured the way you want to be? There are many tools in the arsenal I call my closet but one of the most, shall we say, deceptive or effective is color! Color can create the illusion of a shape even when it isn't there or even when there's a bit too much of it.

That's why women who want to appear slimmer do not wear horizontal stripes as they make one look wider. Those with less than a sleek, svelt shape might shy away from even vertical stripes too. Imagine someone taking out a pencil and making squiggly lines on every imperfection you have! Yeah, that's how I feel about it too! No thanks!

However, color can make you appear smaller in certain areas and fuller in others. For instance, I still have a bit of a ballet dancer's figure despite the extra poundage. With small shoulders, narrow hips, and a waist that's not too small thanks to a recent pregnancy, I might look more like a box if I wore a solid colored top. The beauty of the black sweater I'm wearing today, however, is that the very open top and buttoned bottom give a triangular shape that gives that extra bit of curve. Pair that with the knee-length, A-line skirt that swishes when I walk, and you have a feminine, curvy-looking outfit that is modest while also appearing attractive.

Here are some tips for using color to define your shape:

  • Dark colors make things seem smaller
  • Tans or nudes blend with skin and give a seamless look
  • Extremely tight clothing can highlight flaws as can stripes 
  • Extremely loose clothing can make you look like a tent
  • Take a moment to notice the shapes created by the layering of your clothes

Take a chance! Play with the placement of colors this week to play up your assets in a modest, tasteful way! Why not use your clothing as a tool to make you feel better about yourself and dress for success!

The War of Tulle and Roses

Soft and feminine are looks that are seldom seen in today's world. Ever since women adorned large jackets with enormous, football-worthy shoulder pads in an effort to garner equality with men in the workplace, we ladies have been venturing farther and farther from the very things that make us attractive to the men we love. From mismatched compilations of stained and faded rags to hyper-masculine jackets and boots, one wonders what there is to cuddle up to any more.

Woman, the creation, is a masterpiece. We are the second being of reason to be created after man and we were created as a compliment to him. We were not constructed to rival him but to shore up his imperfections with our unique gift of womanhood.

For instance, my husband is fantastic with our son, teaching him to test his limits. When he has a minor fall, my husband teaches him to brush it off and get back in the game. When he recently fractured his leg on a slide, my husband was the first to take him--with daddy, of course--down another one even with the cast on so that Ethan would not fear slides but rather overcome them. My son giggles every time now.

I'm the more sensitive, motherly type. My son falls and I'm instantly running to his rescue. The other day, my husband suggested I give him some space to cry it out but then we decided that my "mothering" was okay. Daddies are here to teach our kids to pick themselves back up; mothers are here to hold us when we're sick and hurting and need that extra embrace.

I'm soft. I'm a woman...and you know what? That's okay. God made me that way. I am His masterpiece, not only created in His image but also created in such a way that appeals to my husband. And that's not something I care to lose just to get ahead in a career.

Today's marketplace has really grown in that employers seldom consider your outfit or gender to be indicative of your abilities. A dress works just as well as a power pantsuit if you are a hard worker!

This week, try something feminine. This look is comprised of a soft tulle skirt with rosebud heels from our wedding. I paired them with a cream blouse adorned in pastel roses over a gold tank top with soft cream ruffles. Cinch in that waist with a gold belt to keep it all proportioned and we've got a bit of feminine charm going on this week!

Would I suggest this look for working in the garden or cooking dinner? I should say not! But for an evening out or joining your sweetheart at church, I think it's just perfect! What element of femininity have you included this week?


Pastel Isn't Just for Easter Eggs!

‘Dying’ to be feminine, soft, and elegant this season? Try pastels for a delightful twist on the trench!

One of the best things you can do to highlight your skin, giving your face a rosy glow, is wearing pastels—especially those in the pink family! For this outfit, I chose a coral trench without its belt over a tan skirt! And, of course, the shoes compliment the exact hue of the trench!

Trench coats were rarely seen in pastel until recent years, but the combination is quite elegant!  To spice it up, don’t forget a beautiful hairband or flower. You are a woman—look like it!

From soft, muted tones of green, blue, and yellow, the pastel trench coat does indeed exist…and thrive!


Rainshower Anyone?

On to one of my favorites! Truly, seeing an orange trench on a hanger in Bloom might not send your heart racing…unless you can see the possibilities! Adding a fun skirt underneath--basic , neutral, or even something patterned--can really set this off!

I personally would choose a navy pencil skirt with a wild scarf to pull in the umbrella! Too fun! Needless to say, there are a million directions you can take this ensemble; just use your imagination!


Gorgeous, unique, and elegant!

While I am certainly not a seamstress (well, not of anything you'd want to wear!), I can certainly point out a great frock when I see one!  

And I see tons of them at Dainty Jewell's!!

Most of you have probably discovered her store but for those who haven't, you simply must check this out!!

From ankle-length to knee-length, from Vintage to ultra contemporary, her styles are boundless and simply adorable!

I have a wish list a mile long...Oops!  I hope my husband doesn't find it!

They have dresses, men's ties, children's clothing, and even shoes!  You've simply got to explore this shop!  I may not be a seamstress or own a store, but I love directing my friends to great resources and this one is amazing!

Check it out at!