6. Twinkle, Twinkle… 


Twinkle, twinkle, little star, how I wonder who you are?

Twinkle, twinkle, little star, what a gift from God you are!

My friend is having her first baby! She told me she liked the twinkle little star theme for the boy nursery and Pinterest overflowed with ideas for the shower. For such a simplistic and classic theme, the possibilities and suggestions where overwhelming and I constantly had to pare down. It was a lot of fun! Especially since this was the first big project I got to do with the new Cricut Explore Air machine my husband gave to me for Christmas. It was also the first baby shower I have coordinated and I was blessed to have two other ladies contribute help with food, activities, star shaped sugar cookies and borrowed items. Team work is the secret to life.

Thanks to my friend, Michael, I have lovely photos to share with you.

The shower was hosted as a brunch with a oodles of help from my partners in this venture. This is the menu we came up with: parfait cups, pancake bites, egg and sausage casseroles, donut holes, bacon, coffee cake, virgin mimosa’s, water and coffee. Brunch is such an ideal time because there are a slew of fun and easy food options.

Being a co-ed shower, we played Baby Jeopardy (guys versus girls) as well as Blind Folded Diaper Challenge where all the guys compete to get an infant diaper on a balloon, blind folded, without popping it. Both games induced a lot of laughs and fun competition! Another wonderful activity, provided by a friend, was Encouragement Cards. Everyone was handed a card and pen and we all got a moment to write a word of encouragement to the new parents. The cards will be mailed out over the course of a few weeks after the baby is born. I hadn’t heard of this before but it is such a thoughtful idea.

In place of a guest book, I hand painted a small canvas night sky in water colors. Then printed out small stars from my Cricut machine which guests would sign with their names.

We also had a diaper raffle to encourage guests to bring a pack of diapers to get the parents stocked up for the first month. Each package of diapers earned a ticket for the drawing. Target and Walmart carry unique and inexpensive games that make great prizes for raffles.

I had a lot of fun making simple Thank You cards for the new Momma. Now that I have seen what my Cricut machine can do, I can’t wait to make some for myself. The envelopes were placed next to the canvas for anyone to write their name and address on, saving one more step for the new parents in writing their thank you notes later on. I wish this idea was common around the time of my wedding six years ago!

I was truly tickled with the game prizes, as seen bellow. This Pinterest link inspired the mason jar shower kits with the tag “From the Jordan’s Shower to Yours!” Cute, huh? The travel section at Target carries great mini bath products for men and women. I don’t have a photo of it but I made a few for men too with Axes deodorant, Dove shampoo and shaving cream. The jars came from my hoard of glass bottles, of course; and I spray painted the lids.

I hope you enjoy the photos and get inspired. Feel free to ask questions! For instructions on the diaper cake, I followed a couple different posts from other handy bloggers but this one by Alli Crafts was the most helpful for the base, click here. The navy pouf at the top of my diaper cake is actually a Swaddle Me bunched up and half stuffed down the middle of the display.

My “How-To” video of the Twinkle Little Star Mobile

To see more of my favorite baby shower inspirations, see my Party Planning board here on Pinterest.

5. A Fairy Tale Afternoon

Salty sea air, humid breeze and ocean spray. When I close my eyes, I transport immediately to my favorite place on earth. Since childhood, Nags Head North Carolina near Kitty Hawk and the Wright Brothers Memorial has become one of the places I associate with the word “home.”

My Papa and Grama lived there in a beach house on stilts for over 30 years, creating a soul soothing haven for all who visited. And let me tell you, there were many. They knew the art of kindness. And even though they’re no longer here, I can’t help going back as often as possible.

It was a girlish dream come true when my best friend and soul mate, proposed to me alone on the sand dunes at sunset November 24th while we were there for a family Thanksgiving. I literally day dreamed of this as a little girl and believed there could not be anything more romantic. It was that much more special when I learned my Mom and Grama played a role. I love envisioning how they orchestrated the privately reserved table at the restaurant for us later that evening, and went shopping for a bouquet of two dozen roses to have waiting at the table when we arrived. Sometimes magic is created simply. Sheerly out of thoughtfulness.

We were married March 12th 2011, back home in the Shenandoah Mountains of Virginia, close to all our friends and family.

Naturally, shortly after our wedding, I was nostalgic to wear my wedding dress again. It’s the most gorgeous gown I’ve ever owned! It seemed tragic I’d only wear it once. I decided to someday take photos in it again on the spot where Kent proposed.

When I saw Pinterest inspired photo shoots of brides “trashing” their dress post wedding in commemorative, artsy and messy ways, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. From brides on horse back in a country field or a woodsy creek in a fairyland theme looking like a nymph, these photos inspired me. I even contemplated a photo shoot on Skyline Drive or a park we strolled through while dating, but none of these seemed as perfect as the beach.

Our first few anniversaries flew by and this concept didn’t seem possible until two years ago after my Dad’s death. Mom was moving to a new home with new memories and she had been reading “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art” by Marie Kondo. Purging my million stuffed animals, doll houses and tea sets was necessary. As well as my wedding boxes. This prompted Kent and I to get serious about doing a special photo shoot in my dress. The more we talked about it, the more I knew we had to do it at the beach. It was a place that was significant for both of us.

We found Ginger, an amazing local photographer. She and I talked about my vision for the photo session beforehand. I loved that Ginger sounded nearly as excited as I was for this “wreck the dress anniversary shoot” to happen! We planned it for a late afternoon during a huge family trip that also turned out to be my sister’s destination wedding! After her wedding, hours of swimming, my birthday and more family fun than a person should be allowed to have in one week, Kent and I snuck off. Getting all dressed up, we slipped away for one of the most magical and fun things we’ve ever done together since our own wedding and honeymoon.

It had been blistering hot the two days before and the forecast called for rain. In the early morning hours it thundered and stormed with torrential downpours and window rattling thunder and lightning. The kind that keeps you snuggled under your blankets in cozy awe of God’s creation but also kind of makes you scared.

I was actually truly scared for a bit that our photo session might be canceled. Up until the last-minute I needed to start getting dressed, thunder was still threatening in the background and Ginger and I went back and forth about whether it would work. Thankfully, Kent was truly the optimist and encouraged me to keep getting ready. We all realized an overcast sky could be so much better, but little did I realize the stormy backdrop would be so breathtaking!

We stuffed myself, skirts and all into the rental car and picked up my Aunt Grace. She couldn’t make it to our wedding in 2011 and this was the perfect opportunity to make it up to her. I honestly don’t know what we would have done without her there to help carry my sopping wet skirts, hold my lipstick, rearrange the veil and such. She was a sort of stand in bridesmaid for the afternoon and I’m so thankful!

I’ll never forget wearing my wedding dress for a second time. For being reminded I am my husband’s bride now and forever, not just on March 12th. Without the excitement and hustle of a wedding, Kent could fully appreciate again the dress Mom and I picked out and had the bust altered to resemble Belle from Beauty and the Beast.

We got to play the best kind of dress up, really. Giggling over making romantic poses look natural. Nervous laughing as thunder and lightning still shook in the distance. It was quite an adventure. And Kent found it especially funny when I screamed in excited surprise as the first waves crashed over my gown.

This photo session wasn’t without some bittersweet emotion. Papa had passed away before our wedding, but before he went, I’ll never forget one of the last, truly lucid, conversations he had with me in the middle of his failing memory. He told me he was sorry that he would not be around much longer, that he loved me and all of us children. I reminded him of all the wonderful times we’d had because of the home he and Grama made at the beach; that made him happy. He told me he was proud of me, that I was blessed with so much love and family. And lastly, that he truly hoped I would continue to come to the beach and treasure it even when he’s gone. I can’t type those simple words without getting teary. My Papa who held my hand on walks, pointing out bunnies, turtles, pelicans and patiently sat at my many exclusive tea parties, left me with one more treasure. As I stood on the edge of the outgoing tide in my wedding gown that Papa never got to see in person, I remembered him. For a moment, a part of this was for him and his request. I bet he could see me.

I know Grama would have loved these photos as well. I can hear her exclaiming “that’s neat!” as she did over exquisite things.

For one more day, courtesy of GingerSnaps Photography, we got to make more dreams come true.

Marriage is a gift. I’m not being trite. For it’s not without trials and tribulations, tears and disappointments. But if loyally committed to with faith and kindness, let’s not forget, it’s all worth it. I also know that…

Once in a while, we are allowed a fairy tale day.

Photos are courtesy of GingerSnaps Photography. Please do not copy or download images for privacy purposes.

4. Homemade Essential Oil Hand Salve 

Happy Wednesday!

I was torn about which project I would do for this post but quickly settled on this because my hands have suffered a great deal this Colorado Winter. I once took pride in silky hands, yet recently no amount of regular lotion could repair my flaky, cracked knuckles. So I compared Pinterest suggestions and then wrote out my own experimental recipe. And I have to say, after a day and a half of applying this to my hands before bed, before I drive and at my desk, my hands are restored! I wanted a recipe that focused more on the amazing benefits of shea butter. Since this was a first time experiment I went with a small batch in 1/4 cup measurements. I did not label this a lotion for a few reasons. The consistency and slow absorbance seems more applicable as an ointment than an every day all around hand lotion, which is ideally less oily. At the rate my, once smooth hands, have been cracking, a healing balm is called for, oily and all! I now consider this my healing hand treatment when regular, oil free, lotions fail.

The trendy stationary I wrote the recipe on was given to me by my talented sister in law, Grace Pennington. I love her original hand sketched designs!

I originally added 3 drops of German Chamomile to this salve per my essential oils handbook suggestion. However, the oder was so overpowering in the recipe I decided not to include it above. If you make this as a healing hand treatment I recommend bottling small portions into multiple tiny containers (recycled spice containers work great). One each for your purse, desk and night stand. Perhaps even by your kitchen sink if you frequently do dishes. Regular dish soap often contributes to drying out my hands and leaving them chapped. (I cannot wait to try Young Living’s Thieves Dish Soap instead in my next monthly order!) A couple of days of faithful application of this salve should result in noticeable improvement. Enjoy!

Please note: if you do not have the time or resources to make this recipe yourself, I’d be happy to make a personal batch for your purchase! Just comment for a request.