Friday, February 27, 2015

Monogrammed Baby Shower Favor

Yesterday was (hopefully) our final snow day of the season. I took advantage of the day to make some favors for the welcome luncheon that is planned for my sister's new baby, Matthew. She and her family live in North Carolina, so this will be the first time that many family and friends meet sweet Matthew, who was adopted in December. The girls and I traveled to North Carolina during Christmas break and enjoyed our time with Matthew and his older brother and are eager to see them again next weekend.

My mother and I expect about 45 people next weekend at the luncheon, including the great-grandmother of my girls and my sister's boys. So exciting!

monogrammed party favor baby boy favor

John bought a Silhouette Cameo Electronic Cutting Machine for me for Valentine's Day. Although I love my Cricut, this has been on my wish list for a while. To be honest, when I first took it out of the box, I was a little bit intimidated by it because it connects to the computer and uses special software. Once I got over the learning curve, I have to say that I'm thrilled with the Silhouette Cameo and see myself using it quite a bit in the future.

After making the design, and cutting and pasting it over and over in a template in the Silhouette studio, I cut out circle tags on navy blue cardstock. Next, I designed a monogram in the design program and cut those on white cardstock. The monogram letters took a while to take off the sticky mat because there is so much detail and there were so many of them! Using two cutting mats at a time helped the process move quickly. One mat was in the machine being cut while I was taking the finished product off of another mat.

monogram party favor tag made on silhouette cameo

I glued the monogram letters onto the circle tag.

monogram party favor tag

I love these skinny cellophane bags for party favors. I put 15 M and M's in each tube, alternating the colors in the scheme of the party. The cellophane bags measure 1 inch x 7 inches and are a perfect size for M and M's, Sixlets, or other small candy. The bags have an adhesive back to keep the candy fresh.

skinny cellophane bag candy party favor baby boy

Finally, I tied the monogram tag to the cellophane bags with the candy using some grosgrain ribbon. I'm really pleased with the final result, especially since it is my first project using this new and exciting tool.

Since I'm a beginner, I'd love to hear about things that you have made with the Silhouette Cameo or any ideas or suggestions that you might have for using it. What templates or fonts do you like the most?

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Lilly Pulitzer New Arrivals

Lilly Pulitzer has another winning collection for spring. The Raegan dress sits at the top of my current wish list. Surprisingly, this shade of yellow is very flattering to my skin tone. The dress fits true to size, the 4 is perfect for me (and my hips) thanks to the full skirt. The dress is an appropriate length for me, hitting above the knee, but not at a scandalous level. For modesty, there is a little insert for the lace detail that makes this dress appropriate for any occasion. Stunning choice for spring!

lilly pulitzer raegan fit and flare dress first impressions
Raegan Fit and Flare Dress
Usually I don't like to have more than one thing in a print, but the different colors of the First Impression print are both so stunning, that I may need to get the yellow and the blue. I pre-ordered these Callahan shorts in Poolside Blue First Impression for my daughters.

If you're like me and have a huge purse or tote bag that you carry with you often, you need the Pick Me Up Pouch. This adorable bag is the perfect size. I use mine to hold lip gloss, blotting paper, hand sanitizer, and more in my purse. I'm not digging in my bag to find things that I need with this perfectly sized bag. Priced reasonably, this bag also makes a great gift.

lilly pulitzer pick me up pouch pinch me
Pick Me Up Pouch
An Elsa top is always a great choice. I love the Elsa top almost as much as I love the Travel Pant. No matter what the thermometer says, you can always wear and Elsa. The Elsa top in Worth It brings a pretty pop of pink. I wear my Elsa tops so much in the winter and early spring because it's a pretty print and a pop of color while keeping me warm in layers.

lilly pulitzer elsa top in worth it
Elsa Top in Worth It
What are your favorite Lilly Pulitzer pieces for spring? Watch for my latest fit guide in an upcoming post.

Remember that today is the last day to enter to win a preppy crab tote!

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Comfortable Jack Rogers + Snow!

After a long winter, I'm so eager for spring to finally arrive in Maryland. I spotted these new beauties from Jack Rogers and will have to give them a try. The Capri Sandal is new this year and features the classic style that you love with the addition of a demi-wedge heel and cushioned footbed. They sound so comfortable!

jack rogers capri sandal demi wedge heel

Meanwhile, in Maryland I enjoyed what I hope was Mother Nature's last dose of winter. I took a stroll through Baker Park on this beautiful, sunny day.

Down Coat (similar, on sale!)  //  Sweater Dress (old)  //  Murfee Scarf (similar)  //  Pants (on sale!)  //  Bean Boots

Believe it or not, this is a lake with a fountain in the center. The lake is frozen with a layer of snow on top of it. I love to come here in the spring to visit the ducks.

The covered bridge is another one of my favorite spots.

Although the snow is gorgeous, keep your fingers crossed that I am soon sporting those Jacks!

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

My Mother's Baked Macaroni and Cheese

baked macaroni and cheese recipe

My mother is a fabulous cook and has quite an impressive array of recipes that I use. The macaroni and cheese that I ate as a child (and still eat today!) was always packed full of creamy, delicious cheese. Just thinking about this makes my mouth water.

During the winter I tend to make more "comfort food." Perhaps it is the cold weather that makes me want to hibernate and eat. Whatever the reason, the end result is delicious. For this baked macaroni and cheese recipe, I used Barilla pasta. I love the ridges on the pasta that seem to grab the cheese and flavor so much better than smooth pasta. Any cheese tastes delicious in macaroni and cheese, but I used a blend of cheddar, American, Swiss, and pepper jack cheeses.

baked macaroni and cheese recipe mom

1 box of pasta
2 cups of shredded cheese
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste
paprika to taste
4 tablespoons butter

1. Cook pasta as directed on box.
2. Stir together the cheese, flour, salt, pepper, and paprika.
3. Drain the pasta and mix with the cheese, flour, salt, pepper, and paprika.
4. Top with butter and stir so that the butter melts into the hot pasta.
5. Put into a greased pan.
6. Level off the pasta, but don't pack down too firmly.
7. Pour milk over the pasta and cheese mixture. It takes quite a bit of milk. Pour slowly and allow it to sink into crannies inside the pasta. Top off several times until the milk fills the pan to the top of the pasta.
8. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for about an hour.

I love the little crunchy edges on the mac and cheese. In fact, we all like them a lot at our house, so I did let this get a little bit brown around the edges. It's the perfect balance of crunchy on the outside and creamy and smooth on the inside. Delicious.

baked mac and cheese recipe

In an effort to try to balance my meal a little bit, I did pair the mac and cheese with a salad. I figure that they cancel each other, right?

mac and cheese with a salad

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Monday, February 23, 2015

5 Hostess Gifts Under $20 + Jack Rogers Flash Sale

Do you need a thoughtful gift for a gracious hostess? Whether you are shopping for the beach lover, the foodie, or the hostess with the mostess, these gifts are sure to delight, while scoring a return invitation for you!

5 hostess gifts under $20 mackenzie childs seda france

Who says that coloring books are just for children? The Art of Nature Coloring Book is a coffee table worthy coloring book featuring stunning illustrations to color and admire. The high quality paper has perforated edges, ideal for framing your creations. I love to color and find it to be incredibly relaxing and fun.

coloring book for adults the art of nature

If you're headed to a beach destination, a shell box makes a lovely gift to be admired for a long time. Lately, I've been loving anything with an octopus on it, like this tunic that I featured here, and was tickled when I spotted this box. Smaller interior compartments make it easy to organize treasures from the sea.

octopus shell box

When in doubt, a bottle of wine is always an excellent choice for a hostess gift. Wrap it up in style with the MacKenzie-Childs Orchard Check Wine Bag. At only $9 with free shipping, stock up on these now for gifting throughout the year.

Chandelier Cocktail Napkins from Kim Seybert come in a set of 6 handmade linen napkins. An elegant addition to any table, the napkins are on sale for over 50% off the original retail price.

Seda France candles last for such a long time and smell delicious. Transport yourself to a tropical paradise with the delicious coconut and pineapple candle. It's a lovely treat.

seda france candle on sale

P.S. Scoot on over to Jack Rogers! They're having a flash sale today only with prices up to 50% off retail.

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Friday, February 20, 2015

Preppy Blue Crab Tote Giveaway

Transport your things in style with a gorgeous printed canvas tote. Earlier this month, I mentioned some incredibly functional and resistant tote bags to you. The preppy motifs on these bags makes them such a fun conversation piece. Among my collection are tote bags with pink dogs, race horses, bees, and flamingoes.

Get ready for spring with a fun giveaway. Leave a blog comment and use the Rafflecopter widget to enter to win!

preppy canvas blue crab tote

a Rafflecopter giveaway


P.S. If you're looking for some weekend sales, I have a few great tips for you!

Kayce Hughes: 70% off fall clothing!
J. Crew: Get 20% off (25% with your J. Crew Card) select items with the code SHOPPINGTIME.
Anthropologie: Take an extra 25% off already reduced sale prices with the code EXTRAEXTRA
Charming Charlie: With new markdowns just taken, get up to 75% off original prices.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

10 Classic Coats for Spring

Spring will be here before you know it. Now is the perfect time to buy a coat that is classic and fun. The coats featured today include a variety of price points, ranging from under $50 to around $700. Think about the cost per wear, not the retail price of the coat. Since you'll be able to wear a jacket several times a week during the spring, for several seasons, these pieces make a great investment.

In addition to a basic trench coat, colorful coats adds a stylish touch to transitional spring outfits.

10 classic coats for spring j crew kate spade barbour

No matter what you're wearing, a trench coat is a chic, classic staple in your coat closet. Reasonably priced options from Forever 21 and Old Navy boost your wardrobe at a great price. A basic beige trench goes bold with black buttons and gorgeous piping detail. The plaid Barbour trench coat does double duty because it's made out of water resistant reversible fabric!
piped trench coat dkny
I'm a sucker for scallops, whether they're on shorts, a skirt, or a coat. And when there are scallops and they're pink, it's perfection. The Talia coat from Kate Spade is at the top of my wish list.
pink kate spade talia scalloped coat
Wear a little bit of sunshine on a rainy day with a stunning swing coat from J. Crew. The removable hood keeps your hair perfect, no matter what Mother Nature sends your way. Although the coat also comes in navy, I love this yellow color.  

j crew swing trench yellow spring coat

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

How To Style: Lilly Pulitzer Charlene Dress

Every season Lilly Pulitzer brings back some of my favorite styles. The Charlene dress is an incredibly versatile three-season dress that looks great styled a number of ways. I have solid Charlene dresses and a few striped ones, too.

It's still quite cold in Maryland and I like to wear layers to help me to keep warm. So I decided to pair a button down shirt with the Charlene dress for a different look. The stretchy fabric of the dress looked perfect over a slim blouse. The gold tone necklace perfectly compliments the buttons on the dress.

Jules Smith Necklace (on sale)  //  Frye Boots (60% off!)
Unlike other items, the Charlene dress fits fairly consistently from season to season. This navy dress is from a previous season and is a size small. I've been wearing a size 6 in the latest spring styles. I tried on the pink Charlene in store and the size small fit well.

While I can't wear super short dresses to school, the Charlene dress is an appropriate length and fit. It's conservative but fun. Paired with a button down shirt one day and a scarf the next day, it can look completely different depending on how the dress is styled.

I wore this dress for an exciting and busy day! In the morning, I presented a workshop for principals and media specialists about how to combat high-tech cheating. It is a very interesting topic that becomes more and more important as students have their electronic devices at school and use them frequently in the classroom.

In the evening, I was recognized at the Board of Education meeting for achieving National Board Certification in Spanish. The year-long process helped me to reflect on my teaching and helps me to continue to evaluate how I teach. At the televised meeting, I greeted board members and the superintendent after receiving recognition and a pin. So special!

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Where I live in Maryland, we got several inches of snow yesterday. Honestly, it didn't amount to much, but schools were cancelled. The girls and I went outside and they sledded down some hills close to our house. I had to make my monogram in the snow, of course. Kind of the "February in Maryland" version of summer sand. My Bean boots kept my feet warm and dry, too.

monogram in the snow preppy winter

ll bean boots in the snow


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Kinkling Day + Snow Day Games

Happy Shrove Tuesday! Today at my house, we're going to be celebrating with kinklings. Not a king cake...kinklings.

Kinklings seem to be a unique tradition that is virtually unknown outside of Frederick County, Maryland where I live. Kinklings are not donuts, and although they do share some similar traits, they are not as sweet as donuts. The delicious deep-fried dough is made with yeast, sugar, flour, eggs, and other ingredients. The yeast dough is deep fried in oil and is coated with powdered sugar.

I fondly remember going to the now non-existent Donut Shoppe to get kinklings during the month of February. Luckily, there are many delicious local bakeries who still serve this special treat to patrons. This past weekend, cars lined both sides of the road and the line was out the door at a Middletown bakery who was selling these in bags while they were still warm. Needless to say, that batch didn't make it to my house intact. I couldn't refuse a warm kinkling.

In other areas of Maryland and Pennsylvania that were settled by Germans, people call this sweet treat a fastnacht. Traditionally, people prepared fastnachts for Shrove Tuesday aka Mardi Gras. Families used up all of their lard, butter, and fats that people tended to avoid during Lent. My church is celebrating Shrove Tuesday with the "Fastnacht Follies!"

kinkling shrove tuesday frederick maryland fastnacht

Today is another snow day for us and Natalia and Alexia are thrilled! After a four day weekend, the girls have already finished their homework, they have read and studied and practiced and kept themselves busy with a million other activities. So we're going to play games and turn the snow day into a board game day!

Even though my hand is shaky, but I ended up winning this game of Operation because I took out some of the pieces that were worth the most money. The girls want a rematch, which I am sure I will lose. We practically vaporized a box of Girl Scout cookies that our neighbor brought to us. She's trying to sell 500 boxes and we are helping her achieve her goal.

family game night operation

Natalia and Alexia love to play games. I often find them in their rooms playing a game together. Alexia especially loves games by Gamewright. Being quite serious, when Alexia was younger, she took the comment card in the game to heart and wrote a letter to Gamewright to give her feedback to them and to make a suggestion for a new game. Amazingly, the company personally responded to her letter with a customized response and a coupon for a future purchase. Such outstanding customer service.

Games my 13 year-old twins highly recommend:
1. Iota: Small in size and perfect for travel, this game offers a lot of opportunity to play and is great for logical reasoning.
2. Spy Alley allows James Bond aficionados to try to deceive other players while they try to find out their secrets.
3. Slamwich is a fast moving card game that is a perfect choice when you only have a short amount of time to play.
4. Mixed Nuts includes hilarious stories and scenarios. Score nuts by deciding if the story is true or completely nuts.
5. Parcheesi is a race to the center home space in a traditional, ancient board game from India. When I was 7 or 8, I remember being captivated by this game that I found in the attic of my great-grandparents' home. Ever since then, it's been a favorite.

family game night gamewright picks

Later this afternoon, the girls will babysit our neighbors for a few hours. Natalia and Alexia love to babysit. After a class at the local community college, both girls are certified babysitters and have first aid training. They take their jobs very seriously and enjoy earning some of their own money.

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