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Friday, July 24, 2015

South Bound!

Hey friends, we're getting geared up to head south in TWO WEEKS!!  You may remember the trip that Bill and I made to Montgomery, AL last November over Thanksgiving.  We got to meet some Instagram friends, deliver cookies to the governors mansion and help Evan G. Cooper.  Bill took care of some renovation projects that Evan needed done and I got to lend a hand with some flower arrangements!  The week went way too quickly and we knew that we would have to get back there sooner than later. We're heading down for Evan's #bigtopbirthdaybash and decided to make a family vacation out of it.  The kids weren't very happy that we left them behind the last time, so we really didn't have a choice this time around.


There seem to be so many things that need to get done before we leave on the 7th; getting the camper ready, which due to a mouse family taking up residence, it needed to be completely emptied, stripped and scrubbed down with a bleach solution),  packing, filling orders, Evan's birthday cookies, not to mention the daily things that need attention.  I don't want to get there and realize that we have no idea of what to do or where to go.  So, I thought I'd ask for your opinions. 

Like I mentioned, we will be camping for the week (we have a large pop-up with air conditioning) and our children's ages are 18, 15, 13 and 11!  So with six of us, we need to do things as cost effectively as we can.

We do plan on eating out once or twice, but intend to prepare most of our meals at the camper.  So, here are my question(s) to you or ya'll:

What are the "must see" attractions in or around Montgomery?
What things aren't really worth the time or effort?
Where do you go for some family fun at a fair price or free?
How do you beat the heat?  It gets pretty hot up here, but I understand that it's a whole different kind of hot in 'bama! 

We did follow a link that a follower shared on my facebook page and it looks like there are plenty of things to do!!  Which is awesome, but a bit of feedback from you would be awesome!

We are hoping that this trip brings a bit more clarity for us.  We are ready for a change and God has seemed to plant a seed in our hearts of Montgomery.  Honestly, we'd love to open a shop there and become part of the community.  There are still quite a bit of unanswered questions and obstacles to get through, but we are seeking the Lord's will and just doing what we believe is the next step.

We are looking for "less house, more home", in other words, we are ready to downsize our home, property and schedule.  On our last visit, we spent quite a bit of time with a realtor and saw many homes that we loved.  We get updates on new homes that hit the market and are keeping an eye on a few that we would purchase right now if we could.

Even is Alabama isn't a part of the plan, it's been fun exploring what we want and where we want to be.  It's led to lots of conversations about what it is that we're looking for out of life and how we can best impact the world around us.  We feel that God has given us the gift of hospitality and would love to share that.  Montgomery seems to be bursting at the seams with creative business owners and that excites me - there doesn't seem to be much of that around here.

So, I better get back to filling those orders and prepping for this trip!!!  Can't wait to get down there and see you all (hoping to meet some new friends -let me know if you'll be around that week)!

God Bless
Lorraine



Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Sweet Home Alabama - The Last Days

Alright, let's wrap this trip up shall we??  It seems like it's been forever since it took place and I realize that the whole thing is old news.  But for the sake of completing something that I started, let's just keep going.

We left off at Wednesday and the "If Only" post about the dreamy B & B idea.  Earlier that week I talked with one of my friends and previous customers, Melissa, and she invited Bill and I to share Thanksgiving dinner with her and her family.  When I say that I "talked" with her, I mean that we texted.  We hadn't actually had a spoken conversation before and come to find out, we were both hoping that the other wouldn't think the situation was just weird.  Thank God, neither of us did!  Since we are who we are, we knew that we couldn't show up empty handed.  Also, and not that there is anything wrong with it, we also knew that stopping by the store to pick something up other than drinks wasn't going to sit well with us.

So, what did we do?  We baked two pumpkin pies, nope, not the pre-baked ones in the cute little aluminum pans.  We bought everything that we needed to bake the pies from scratch, crust and all.  Now, settle down, before you start thinking and asking out loud "Are you crazy??", let me just tell you, YES!  WE ARE!!  But technically I think we would argue that we aren't really crazy at all, it's just who we are and what we do.  Nope, it's not too much trouble, or even a little bit of trouble, it's truly just who we are!!

We had a lovely time with the Wright family and friends and even though it wasn't our home or our family, it was a close second!!  We are so thankful for the way social media can bring people together.  It truly felt like we had known each other for ever!  A gift from God for sure.



Friday, our last day there, we had offered to help Evan around his office with whatever he needed help with.  I was so excited about this day, yes I am fan girling - so what? It was a dream come true.

 
 
Let's see.....I used to work for a florist, I've always loved design, creating and color coded, organized shelves full of supplies/props, so this seemed like the perfect day to me!!
 


Evan had a wedding that coming weekend that he needed to do the flowers for and his office was right in the middle of a renovation and he was a week out from his first holiday open house!  There was plenty for us to do. On that Tuesday we had met up with Evan for lunch and he took us back to his office.  We started to clean things up while we were there and move some of the furniture back to where it belonged.  Friday we split up and I helped Evan with his flowers and Bill painted those huge urns, primed and painted a fireplace mantel, painted a mirror frame, moved furniture and hung things on the walls. 

Evan was even kind enough to let me play around with his mantle design.  I knew he'd change pretty much everything that I did and that was okay, because I would do the same exact thing!  It was still a blast and I loved every minute of it!

 
All day long, I just kept looking around and thinking "I can't believe I'm sitting here, working with Evan G. Cooper!".  Now, I know that he would say that he's nobody special, I know that because it said it more than once to me that week.  Yes, I would agree with that in the sense that he really is just a regular guy with amazing talent and an amazing personality.  He's making a name for himself in the event planning world.  But from an IG followers perspective, this was a pretty spectacular opportunity!!  I was in awe of the fact that I was there!
 
We finished up the day and went out to dinner together.  It was a really great, really fast week!  I couldn't believe that we were heading home the early next morning.  We made great friends, saw a lot of great houses, and made great memories that I will hold for a lifetime. 
 
We plan on heading south again, hopefully sooner than later.  In the meantime, we're hoping that Mr. Evan G. will make a trip North to visit us!!  I think he'll have to wait until the weather warms up quite a bit.
 
 
Thanks so much for following along with us!! 
 
 
God Bless,
Lorraine and Bill

Monday, January 12, 2015

How do I.......?

Disclaimer:  I am fully aware that I am being overly dramatic.  I'm not as bad as I am bound to make myself sound in this post.  I am merely dumping my exaggerated feelings here, in this place, where they will stay.  I fully intend to pick myself up and move on.....eventually, but.....for now,

HOW DO I????????
 
 
First let me back up for those of you who aren't currently aware of what is going in my life, which is probably very few of you, considering the only people that I know read this are people that are family or friends in real life or follow me on IG and FB.
 
Saturday we took our daughter, Jessica, of "Tea Tidbits and more", to college.  If you know us, you know that she is my right hand gal, heck we could even go as far to say that she's both of my stinkin hands and my brain!!!!!  She has been such a GINORMOUS help to me and the rest of the family.  It's Monday, it's raining, we're here and she's......there!  Needless to say, I am LOST! 
 

 
 
I can't apologize for that.  I warned you!!  Highly Dramatic!!!!  But still, the stinkin song keeps playing through my mind, over and over and over and over and.....well I think you get the point. I was having a hard enough time this month figuring out what to do with myself without cookies to keep me busy, now I have no cookies and no Jessica!  I seriously could go sit in a corner and rock and be perfectly content.  I won't do it.  The floor is uncomfortable and I'm not a fan of being uncomfortable.  So instead I am giving myself this day, this dreary, cold, rainy, lonely day to "grieve" the separation between myself and my arms and brain.  I'm doing a whole lot of nothing and IDEC!!  (I don't even care - for those of you not up on the text lingo of the younger generations)
 
 
 
On a happier and much less dramatic note, Jessica is doing fabulous (of course, who would've doubted that).  Okay, I was starting to wonder as Friday after Maggie left, tears found their way to Jessica's otherwise dry eyes and it was pretty much over from that point on.  It was an emotional departure. 
 
Maggie - the little girl that Jess babysat and we will continue to babysit!!  #maggiedaysarethebestdays
 
We got her there, un-bunked the beds, unpacked her stuff, did the orientation stuff, president's dinner etc. and then walked her back to her room.  Let's just say that the final "see ya" wasn't at all dramatic.  It was OVERLY dramatic, mostly because of the 10 year old who depends on her big sister even more than I do.  A brother may have shared in the dropping of tears ritual - he shall remain nameless.  We had to pull Julia off of her sister and drag her away.  It was heart wrenching and slightly annoying, because, HELLO??  I'd like to have some room for my tears too!!!!!!!  But I put on my big girl undies and remained the rock for my emotional children, hey it's what we moms do.
 
As you may have seen on IG, these were our "not about to fall apart, we're totally excited" faces. (lies, all lies.)
 
 
So honestly it was a blessing, because I don't really enjoy crying.  It's not a good look and I do like to feel needed, so I guess it was a win win!!  Orientation weekend kept our girl busy, which even though she was dreading it, it did end up to be a blessing.  Turns out that the 9:00 p.m (P stinkin M) kick-ball game was optional!!!  OMGTY!!!!!!  (oh my God, thank you -I don't know if that's a thing, I just made it up, right there!)  She, instead, played bored games, I mean BOARD games and met a few more people. 
 
Joe's elbow on the left, Julia lounged on the bed, Jay was in the chair and there are Jess's little feet!
 
 
From as much as you can grasp through texting, I thought she "sounded" great at the end of the evening.  11:40 PM and she was jumping in the shower and heading to bed!  Sunday morning had the kids rising early and heading to the city for breakfast, praise and worship and a session or two.  She got to meet her roommate and they hit it off.  They did a bit more rearranging of their dorm room and got to know each other better.  Later in the evening she headed off to Wal Mart with some other girls from her hall.  I truly didn't doubt that she would settle quickly and jump right in, it's just who she is.  But I think there's always a little tiny nook in the corner of a mother's heart that harbors such doubts, more like "what ifs" if you will.
 
The Library
 
 
We got to talk to her on the phone yesterday too and I swear she "sounds" like a college student.  I don't know what that sounds like exactly, but after an emotional weekend, it was so good to hear her sound like that! Monday morning Wait!  Today is Monday! THIS morning, she and her roommate "K" went to breakfast with a few other girls and played a game.  Today is the first day of classes, which were delayed due to ice.  I'm anxious to hear how her day went.
 
 
 
I'm getting a new perspective on being a mother.  It's hard not being with her.  Not because I'm a hovering mother, but because I'm used to being with her, to experiencing life with her.  Remember this is the girl who, when taken to Disney with her friends in January, opted to hang out with me and her dad and the friends readily agreed!  So this, it's weird.    I need to be aware of myself and my tendencies to try to be a part of everything.  I realize that I have to let her go.  She needs the space to spread her wings and begin to find her place in this world. 
 
 
Jess and Shelby
 
 
 
I know that she'll share everything with me when she can, so remembering that will be key.  Also, she knows me, so I'm sure that she will give me some room to be a meddling momma here and there.  :)
 
The time goes so quickly friends.  Enjoy every minute you have with your people!!!!  I'll be back later this week with a wrap up of the Alabama trip!!  After that, I have no idea!!  We'll see how this new chapter goes!!  I do have some bedroom pics to share as we are changing and rearranging bedrooms!  So stick around!!! 
 
God Bless
Lorraine
 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Sweet Home Alabama Part Three

Hey there!  Welcome back!!  Moving on to the next property that we looked at, I want to preface this by saying, when we found this place on line, the first line of the description hit our biggest dream of all.  It simply said, "Could this be your bed and breakfast?".  Now, if you don't know us, I'll tell you that owning and running and B & B is our biggest dream to date.  We've stayed in a few and with both of us having a heart for hospitality, to say it caught our eye would be an understatement!

Now I have no idea if we could ever even pull off a dream like that.  But I don't think we ever thought that we'd see a hint of possibility, but here it was!!  Again, I'm not saying that anything is happening.  There are no concrete plans, but there are dreams and wishes and tiny prayers of big things.  It's in God's control as I've mentioned before. 

This property is at the other end of the road that the sweet cottage is on.  It boasts of 12 acres, a silo, horse barn and so much more.

 Hey, a girl can dream, right?!


We entered through the back of this massive home, but trust me when I say it has a grand entrance!!  A nice wide front hall, large staircase, and access to several rooms on the main level.  This home was full of surprises, including the "original" claw foot tub complete with original fixtures!  


We can totally picture making breakfast in the large sunny kitchen for our guests.  Hosting tea time in one of the beautiful sitting rooms, filling the two front balconies with guests as they enjoy their event (hosted by none other than the fabulous Evan G. Cooper).  The 12 acres is dying for some extra TLC.  Bonfires, Hayrides, Horses, Stables, expansion of the B & B with specialty suites, gardens where we'll pick fresh herbs and flowers for our meals and bedrooms.  That little red run down "shack" is the perfect little residence for the innkeepers.  We walked hand in hand around the entire property sharing dreams and ideas with one another and with our sweet Lord, whose hands our future rests.

This experience was so amazing on so many levels that it's unreal to me that we even experienced it.  God is so good and He never ceases to amaze me.  The way that He longs for us to give Him our future, plans, hopes, dreams, fears and hearts.  He's good for it, He won't let you down.  My best laid plans don't hold a candle to what He has planned for me (not even a three wick candle!) 

Like I continue to say, I haven't the faintest clue as to what is going on in our lives.  All that I can say is that we are trying to be diligent in seeking His will and His timing for our lives.  We are careful to look for the next step that He calls us to take, no matter the size of the step.  Knowing that any size step toward His plan is a goooood step, no a great step.  We can't go wrong when we surrender all that we are and all that we have to our Father in Heaven.

Jeremiah 29:11 says "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Sounds like a good deal to me!!

Until next time, God bless!
Lorraine

Friday, January 2, 2015

Sweet Home Alabama Part Two (lots of pictures)

In my last post, I jumped right to Tuesday so that I could answer some questions.  But now, let me back up and start from the beginning of the trip.

Bill and I figured that it would be a good idea, since Alabama was now on our radar and we were going to be spending a week in a place that we've never been to,  that we may want to check out the housing market there and connect with a realtor.  Monday, we did just that!  Prior to our trip we found a realtor and had a great conversation with her about our situation, what we were looking to get out of our trip and made sure that she knew that time spent with us was not a guarantee of sale.  We are not in the position to buy or sell and this was merely research.

She graciously accepted our request and gave us her entire day!!  She had quite a list of homes for us to look at and they covered quite a range of housing specifics.  Here is some of what I shared with her on the phone about our interests:

1. we would love to downsize
2. but we're not opposed to a larger home (since the pricing there is beyond reasonable)
3. we are ready for more of a neighborhood environment (living in the middle of nowhere is taking it's toll)
4. but we're not opposed to some space
5. The perfect condition, the feel of country life but close to people and places
6.  of course she had to know that three of our five children would be moving with us, in addition to two large dogs and two cats
7.  currently we have goats and chickens.  We are okay with not having space for that
8. but are not opposed to having space for that

Yes, she had her hands full with us!!  God bless her, she pulled together exactly what we needed to see and it gave us a great opportunity to really think about what we would want "if" we were to ever move.

So here are some shots of a few of the houses that we looked at.  It was Tough to only pic a few pictures to share because we absolutely LOVED each of these homes.  So if you want to see more of them, just let me know ;)

First up was a smaller, completely updated home, in a neighborhood, with a very small yard.


It was beautifully decorated (I can't help but notice those things).  It was small, but a good small.  Four bedroom, two bath, fireplace, eat in kitchen, laundry room and it had a great outdoor space with a water feature.  We loved it!  The yard size and outside storage space concerned Bill and rightfully so. We would have a lot to get rid of and the small yard would take some getting used to.

Next up was a magical sort of dream home.  We fell in love with this place before we ever even reached Alabama!!


I didn't get a great shot of the front of this beauty, but trust me.  It's a stunner!  The back yard had all of these great little sitting areas and it had such a magical, whimsical feel about it.  Even though the greenery and flowers were not there to put on a show, their sleep state allowed my mind to wander around the possibilities of a warm day, with everything in full bloom and I ate it up!!  The inside did not disappoint either!


From the moment we peeked through the glass paneled front door and saw the marble floor, grand staircase and gorgeous cat with blue eyes looking back at us, I knew.  It would be a tough one to walk away from if need be.  Classical music wafted through the air and pictures of us dwelling there came to mind as we went from room to room soaking in all of the beauty that this home offered.  Big windows with light flooding in, spacious rooms for entertaining or relaxing, not one, but two gorgeous sun rooms filled my mind with thoughts of lazy afternoons reading in the warm sunlight.  That kitchen!  Oh.my.word.  It was sublime.  Not a large space but a beautifully functional space with gigantic windows looking out to the magical back yard.  Built in old sconces, a gorgeous island and perfect details.  Yep, I'm still smitten with this beauty!!

Sadly, the location is just a teeny bit questionable.  So very sad.  So I tucked this one into my heart and dreams and moved on.  We headed out to a more rural area and a sweet three bedroom cottage on ten acres!

This home takes the sweetest cake!  It was adorable!  Sweet screened front porch, beautifully decorated, great space, on the smaller side.  Actually smaller than the first small home that we looked at.  This is a three bedroom, one and a half bath.  The ten acres are beautiful with space for plenty of animals.  Currently a gentleman is keeping his horses in the back six (I like saying that) and is willing to leave one of the horses with the property for it's new owners.  If that were to be us, we would offer to let him continue to keep all of his horses on the property thus giving us a perfect way into the community and history of this place.  We could picture long picnic tables under the many pecan trees filled with food and friends and family!  There is a pad for another dwelling in the back yard and would be a great spot for a small (ahem) cookie business, in-law suite or anything else that you could think up!  The covered area off of the detached garage is the perfect place for an outdoor entertaining area and the resident chickens would have a place to stay!  Plus a home with a great scripture on the chalkboard warmed my heart to bits!!!  I even joked that the owner had written Richies instead of riches :)  lol

The kitchen was small but warm and inviting, with wood counter tops and open shelving.  We could totally see ourselves in this space.  My one concern with this home was the size of the living room.  It's the first room that you walk into, it has two windows and four doorways, so there's not a lot of wall space for furniture.  It opens into the dining room with french doors, has a doorway to a very wide hallway and a door into one of the bedrooms, plus the front door.  It would be an adjustment.  But we really loved this house as well.

There is one more home that I want to share with ya'll, but I'll save that for the next post!!!  Thanks for coming by!  I hope you enjoyed looking at these houses as much as we did!!

God bless,

Lorraine





Monday, December 29, 2014

Sweet home Alabama


I suppose that I should start at the beginning by answering some of the questions that I've been asked over the month or so.  So here it goes:


What are you doing in Alabama? 

Well about six months ago I connected with Evan G. Cooper on Instagram.  He asked if I shipped cookies and I said Yes!  Truth is, I had only just shipped my first set of cookies to California and that was for a family member.  Shipping was not something that I had any real experience in and it was something that I really didn't expect to be doing very often.  I was wrong.  

If you don't know Evan, let me tell you that once he finds a product or a person that he believes in, he sticks with it.  If you happen to be that person with that product, well you have a friend for life, not only a friend but an advocate, an inspiration and a cheerleader!!  With that being said, Evan has been a huge supporter of "A Place to Gather" cookies, formerly known as "Sweets for your Sweet".  I have developed a friend/customer base in The Heart of Dixie and it was time to go meet some of them!!

Another part of this trip for us was exploring our dreams.  No, we haven't had dreams of Alabama per se, rather finding opportunities to do what we love.  It just so happens, that the dream trail led us to consider Alabama as a possibility.  Life since the job loss has been....interesting. It's had it's moments, but overall, it was a good experience.  God carried us and continues to do so, but it also gave us opportunity to ask ourselves some good questions.  Like, what do you really want out of life?  What is the one thing that makes you "come alive"? If you could do anything, what would it be?

I honestly fell into this cookie thing by no attempts of my own.  God has definitely had His hand in this and it's been fun to look back and see just where He has shown up.  Now I'm not saying that we're moving to Alabama but I am saying that we are open to what ever and where ever God has for us!  It's a freeing place to be!  We're not trying to write our own story, we are simply giving God the pencil and letting Him do what He does best.....write His own story on our lives.

How did you get invited to the Governor's mansion?
In addition to that, I had 8 dozen holiday open house cookies for Evan and he had invited me to provide some special cookies for Governor Bentleys' holiday mansion tours!  So this was a chance to hand deliver these sweet treats and save my friend some crazy shipping costs!   We picked Thanksgiving week because Bill would just be finishing a month of working six twelve hour shifts per week and we needed some time away!!


Our time there was incredible!! My emotions and feelings fluctuated between feelings of being a "star gazer", if you will, and the confidence that I'm gaining in knowing that I was supposed to be there and it was "no big deal"!  For example, the south jersey stay-at-home-mama in me is still freaking out that an event planner in another state wants my cookies!  I'm still freaking out that I actually went to Alabama to meet said event planner and on top of that.....THE GOVERNORS MANSION!!!!  I.Can't.Even!!


Then the flip side is taking all that I've gained over the past two years, specifically the past six months and feeling like I was exactly where I was supposed to be!  The fan in me wanted to take pictures of every little thing and "selfie" the heck out of Evan and Laura, but the cool, calm, collected side of me wanted to just take the experience as it came, like I've been there all along.  It was weird.  And I loved every minute of it!!

 What a stair case!!!!



Okay, here's a word from the "fan girl" in me.  When you are going to meet a very talented event planner and his super adorable assistant for the first time, and you get the opportunity to have your very first picture taken with said "amazing people", the above conditions are NOT the conditions that you would consider for said opportunity.

Please note:

          1. While I am considerably shorter than both of these individuals,  I have to inform you that I ended up standing in a drainage ditch for the governors pool.  So, to be accurate, I'm not THAT much shorter!!  lol  

          2.  In the bundle of nervous energy that I was in, I was talking to Bill when he took this shot.  This ONE AND ONLY SHOT!!!!!!!  Have I not taught that man anything about taking pictures????  Who doesn't know that you never, EVER take only ONE SHOT!!!!  I was going to bury this pic for.ever.  But what fun would that be!!!  So there you have it, my awful, first picture with Evan G. Cooper and Laura Jean Belle!  

Sincerely,
Lorraine D. Richie
fangirl

Okay, back to the story!!  Here are a few more pictures of the mansion. 

 We're so teeny tiny!!!!

 The Governor and First Lady Bentley have seven granddaughters and a grandson on the way.  Evan went with a family friendly theme in the dining room and I made cookie place cards with their granddaughters names on them.  Evan and his team finished them off with beautiful red ribbon and sealed them so that they could be keepsakes for the children.


 The master at work. Evan G. Cooper

 This is Collier, she is the Initiatives Coordinator for the First Lady.  Bill and I made up bags of mini cookies in four different flavors to hand out to customers and other people that we met on the trip.  Collier was through the roof about this tasty little treat and promptly sat on the floor in the dining room and ate those cookies up!!!  

 Mini-Dippers; mini sugar cookies in chocolate, vanilla, chocolate chip and brown sugar n- spice.  Comes with it's own little tub of icing to dip in.  They were a hit!!

 We went through them pretty quickly and had to make up more bags each night!

 Bill and I hit Hobby Lobby on Monday night for some supplies for a project I had that week and I came across this bracelet.  It's says "Just Breathe".  This short statement got me through some tough times during the job loss and unemployment.  It was a good reminder on the eve of meeting Evan and Laura and going to the governors mansion.

Well, that's it for now.  That's only day two of our week stay.  I'll be back with more info and pics from our time in Montgomery!!

I originally wanted this post together and out to you the week that we returned, but as life would have it, I have been swamped with orders since we returned and have only now had the time to sit down and process!!

Hope you had a blessed Christmas and will have a super New Year's Eve!!

God Bless,

Lorraine




Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Place to Gather goes to Alabama- The Prelude

Hey ya'll!!  I can't help but say that after being in the south for almost a week! I really thought that I would post daily about our time here in Montgomery, but our days have been fuller than I expected and  we've been exhausted by the end of the day.  Sunday night we were in bed at six o'clock!   Bill was fast asleep and I was not too far behind him!

There are some pars of this trip that I'm not quite ready to share yet, like what God has been impressing on our hearts, but that day will come sooner than later I believe.  In the mean time, I'm going to need a bit of time to process all that this week has been for us.  In short, it's been fabulous! We've gotten to meet online friends  who are now face to face friends and have seen some of the beauty of the south, in its nature and it's people.

Here are just a few shots that I can share with ya'll.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Happy Birthday!!!!

Today happens to be Maggie's birthday!!  If you follow me on Instagram, you'll know that Maggie is a little girl that my daughter, Jessica, babysits three days a week at our home.  #maggiedays are our #favoritedays for sure!  This little girl is as sweet as sweet can be and today she's turning 2!!



HAPPY BIRTHDAY MAGGIE!!!!!

Speaking of birthdays, I had the cutest set this week for a little girl turning ONE!!  Her name is Sloan Piper -how cute is that name??  Her momma sent me an invite and that was the inspiration for the cookie set.  







I'm finishing up some last minute details on a set for the governors' holiday tour in Alabama and then I'm on to finishing up some personal baking and decorating.  I can't believe that we leave tomorrow for Alabama.  This is such a needed and anticipated trip for a number of reasons.

My hubby, Bill, is on his last day of a crazy work hours, six 12-13 hour days for the past 4 weeks.  He is beyond is exhausted and ready for a break.  I've been shipping cookies to the sweet people of Alabama for quite a few months now and I'm looking forward to meeting some of them, not to mention finally meeting Evan.  We've never been to Alabama and are ready to do some exploring while we are there and are in need of some serious time together.  Life is crazy busy and we don't take the time to slow down and enjoy ourselves enough at all.

Although we'll be gone for Thanksgiving and away from our children and family, there will be much that we are giving thanks for! This creative outlet being one of them and all of the great people who continue to ask for cookies from me!  Some days I can't even believe that any of this is real!

God is good and I can't wait to soak in His goodness on the streets and in the towns of Alabama!!  Tomorrow we have soccer and then have to get to packing.  Should be fun -I hope that I don't over pack -I have a feeling that's inevitable!!

I'll keep you posted!!  

God bless,

Lorraine


Monday, November 17, 2014

Let's talk turkey, shall we?

So Thanksgiving is just a little over a week away and we are typically in a last minute frenzy over here prepping to host our family Thanksgiving dinner - but not this year!! 



 This was from a few years ago, before we knocked that wall down behind Bill and removed that tacky plastic, printed paneling!

While the battle blazes on for the case of Christmas prep before Thanksgiving, we have our own battle here on the home front.  It's not a deadly battle, thank God, or even one to merit a meme, but it is a battle none-the-less.

Here are some whimsical and fun little turkeys that are heading south for the holiday!

You see for years and years, my husband, children and I have hosted our Family Thanksgiving dinner.  We've enjoyed preparing all of the food, a large turkey, sometimes two, cutting, boiling and mashing the potatoes, providing veggies from our garden, warm rolls and cornbread, homemade pie crusts and pies, and of course plenty of cookies.  While Bill would man the kitchen and handle all food planning and prep (with the help of little hands), I was in charge of cookies and table setting!.  On the day of, my job was to keep everyone out of the kitchen and make the place look pretty. Check!!  I've got this!! In fact, I would look for new ways to set the table each year.  We didn't have tons of room on the table for centerpieces and whatnot, but I did what I could to provide a different atmosphere year after year.

 our "kids" table one year

This year will look a little different for us and the rest of the family.  While we have experienced some change in the past few years, with families growing and doing their own thing and watching loved ones pass into eternity, we are familiar with change and the fact that nothing stays the same.  But sometimes, whether you choose the change or not, it's hard to let go of what once used to be.

If you don't already know this about me, I change around rooms like it's going out of style!!  This room is now our office but then was our dining room.

God has been teaching me how to be brave over the past five years or so.  Especially so over the last three years, I have heard His nudging and calling to let go and let Him navigate and orchestrate.  So with anticipation we've decided to take a break from what used to be, and my hubby and I are embracing change and taking a trip to Alabama!!  The kids are not happy at all about us leaving them on Thanksgiving and I'll admit, it feels a wee bit selfish.  But we feel that it's something that we have to do and that week just made sense for a number of reasons.

We always filled up on appetizers right before the meal was served.  What were we thinking?

So I guess the point of my post really is this......This is our first Thanksgiving without our children, our parents, aunts, uncles and cousins.  We'll be in a different state, where we have some contacts but no one that we "know" or "knows" us.  What do we do?  Turkey sandwiches from WaWa?  Wait, they don't have WaWa there.  Could we find a restaurant that isn't already booked up?  Should we make a mini Thanksgiving meal in our hotel suite?  I don't know.

 Bill makes a mean Pumpkin Pie!! 

We would love to experience a true Southern Thanksgiving.....but where do we start?  Alabama friends, what are your typical Thanksgiving dishes??  What should we know about Thanksgiving in the South?  What are your traditions?  We'd love to know!!


Can't wait to see Alabama and the sweet people there!!!  God bless, Lorraine

Monday, November 10, 2014

Who doesn't love a good tea party??

I LOVE tea parties!!  One of my best friends, Kathleen used to host a group of us at Christmas for a tea.  It was such a special time of fun and fellowship, especially when you're used to running around rushed and crazy, it's nice to slow down, breathe deeply and act "like a lady". There's just something about holding a dainty tea cup, sipping sweet, savory tea and nibbling on pretty little pastries and tea sandwiches......aaaaahhhhhhh! 


Oh sorry, I'm back with ya now.  A few weeks ago I was asked to create custom decorated sugar cookies for a special little girl turning 8!!!  Her party theme has to be one of the most popular tea parties ever. Are you a fan of "Alice in Wonderland"?  I am!!  I loved the original when I was little and I love the new version with Johnny Depp even more.  He is such a fabulous actor and does an incredible "Mad Hatter".  Anyway, the tea party scene is a classic and I couldn't wait to jump in and start designing and creating.


Thanks to Kara Anne from Kara Anne Custom Paper & Lettering, I knew exactly where to start.  She created an amazing custom invite and it provided me with so much inspiration I couldn't wait to have these cookies come to life.
 
 
I decided half way in that I was going to try my hand at hand painting some of the details, especially the ones that I took directly from the invitation.  I know, not the best time to try something new, but if not now, then when?  This cookie adventure has pushed me beyond my cramped little comfort zone and I couldn't be happier! 
 
 
I decided to try it out first on some of the smaller cookies, like Rabbit's stopwatch.
We're late! We're late! For a very important date!!!!! 

 I also painted the lettering on the potion bottle.  I liked how they turned out and felt confident that I could move on to the bigger cookie design!  No problem!!

You have a beautiful smile Chesh!!  Ever notice how contagious a smile is?  Especially a great, big genuine smile?  If not, try it out! Notice who's smiling and smile back!!
 

 
I don't know that I did the invitation any justice but I sure tried!!  Hand painting on a cookie is time and labor intensive, but soothing and rewarding at the same time!!  I hope that the birthday girl loves these cookies as much as I loved creating them for her!!  Happy Birthday Nikki!!!  Hope you have a magical celebration!!  8 is a pretty big deal!!!  You're just two years away from double digits!!!!!  But remember, just because you're getting older, don't ever lose the child inside!! Slow down, have tea parties, play with dolls, laugh - a lot!!!!!!  Birthdays are great but it's the inbetween moments that make up a magical life!!
 
God Bless
Lorraine