Master bed updates

Since posting Grant’s newborn pictures, I’ve received several questions about my bedding. If you’ve been following me on Instagram, then you know I’ve made a few updates to my master bedroom lately. Eric and I had been sleeping with the same duvet cover that I bought shortly after we were married, more than six years ago. It was still in good shape, overall, but I’d lost the Euro shams in a move, and I’d grown tired of the throw pillows that I’d had for years.

So, when Pottery Barn offered an additional clearance and free shipping on some of their already discounted bedding, I decided to jump on it. I initially thought I would just add new pillows and a coverlet to freshen up and pair with the existing duvet. I put a few options in my cart, and I showed them to Eric. Thinking this Striped Linen Quilt in aqua would be pretty with the golds in my duvet, it was one of my options. But, when Eric saw it, he wanted it in gray.

Striped Linen Quilt and Shams from Pottery Barn

Striped Linen Quilt and Shams from Pottery Barn

 

At that point, I just decided to start over with our bedding. Sure, I could have made a gray and gold palette work, but I was tired of trying to work with that duvet.

So, I ordered the Striped Linen Quilt in gray, three matching Euro shams, and two more white Euro shams (no longer available).

themaypop_masterbed2

New shams meant I need a vintage monogram, because I always like a bit of old with my new. My vintage monogram is actually just a character in the Intellecta font family. I spent hours looking through the Intellecta font samples before I found the “EV”, and once I found it, I had it digitized and then embroidered on the euro shams. Intellecta is a free font, and you can download it several places. I prefer this link at Fonts 2 U because you can easily preview the full character set in each sample before downloading it.

And to keep the room from looking to cool or to coastal, I needed a leopard velvet bolster to bring in some warm tones and a little bit of glamour. So, I ordered this stunning one from the Etsy retailer Shop Little Design Co.

themaypop_masterbed1

New pillows called for new art in the form of the DIY Ashley Woodson Bailey prints I talked about here.

Are you starting to think, “If you give a mouse a cookie,”? Because that is exactly what’s happened. One thing has led to another in this room, and instead of just sprucing up the existing bedding, I’m in full make-over mode. Up next, I’d like to add more art and freshen up the other accessories, and I need to replace the light fixture too.

Overall, I’m going for a neutral look that is that is comfortable and casual, but that is still warm and a bit luxe. I am planning to bring in more golds in the accessories, and I’d also like to add a blush/nude color somewhere. Maybe on a bench at the foot of the bed? Blushes can be tricky…I want a moody, sultry color. And, I think a pale, almost metallic green would be nice too.

And, of course, new paint would make a big difference. Leave me your paint color suggestions in the comments, please. Tell me what brand/color you see in here. I’d love to hear your ideas!

 



share or save

Shop Little Design Co

Since I shared the sneak peek of Grant’s newborn photos on Instagram, several of you have asked me about the leopard bolster pictured on my bed.

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It’s from the Etsy retailer, Shop Little Design Co. She has the most amazing things in her store…think sumptuous velvets, showstopper animal prints, and the best of Kelly Wearstler.

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Her pillows are beautiful, aren’t they? And, I can’t say enough about the quality and attention to detail. I ordered the queen size bolster, and I have a king size bed, if that helps. Now, go see Betsy, and tell her I sent you!



Grant’s Newborn Photos

Hi friends. I’m slowly getting back to blogging. Thanks for continuing to drop by my little corner of the web, even when I wasn’t here.

Today, I want to share a few of Grant’s newborn photos with you, taken by Gray Benko.

maypopblog_graybenko_grant-9

If you’ve worked with Gray, I imagine the story that follows will be familiar to you. If not, let’s talk about what a newborn session with her is like.

Gray is as much baby whisperer as she is photographer, and even though I’m an experienced mom of three, I did exactly what she said that morning. I cranked up the heat in our house. I let her turn the sound machine up to fill the room with ambient white noise.  I swaddled Grant carefully, making sure to smooth his blanket, because babies don’t like a lumpy or folded blanket under their backs, explained Gray.

As I was rocking him and shushing him to sleep for pictures, Gray started snapping a few shots, “to test the light” she said.

maypopblog_graybenko_grant-4

But she continued to snap, and then she asked me to smile just a little bit, and that’s when I realized she really was taking pictures of me. That’s also when I became awkward and uncomfortable, but I didn’t want to seem like it, so I just kept going with it, doing what she said. And I’m so glad I did. (I’m also glad that I had not only taken a shower that morning, but that I had also washed my hair. I’m glad I got dressed, even if I am wearing a sweater that was a dress pre-baby. And I’m glad I took a few minutes to apply make up to conceal the dark circles already forming under my eyes.)

 

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I’m so glad I just “went with it”, because the moments she captured of us together brought tears to my eyes. And “capture” doesn’t seem to be the right word. I’m not convinced that she doesn’t actually draw these moments out of me.

Without taking anything away from the craft, and admitting that I know very little about photography, in some ways getting good photos is a numbers game. Right? The more pictures you snap, the higher the odds of getting a good one, say one with the two-year-old looking at the camera and smiling. Many good photographers are able to get these images and edit them to perfection.

But Gray is able to do something more. I feel like she is able to see something more raw and more real, something closer to the soul, and then she is magically able to preserve that with her lens.

Her pictures are not always perfect in the traditional sense. There are photos of tiny babies with big green pacifiers in their mouths.

themaypop_graybenko_grant-17

Gray takes pictures of messy faces, messy houses, silly looks, and mommies wearing pajamas (even though baby is dressed impeccably) because “it’s real life”. I’ll admit, part of me fights this style in my mind; the traditional, OCD, organized parts of my brain push against these unpredictable “real moment in time” photographs. There’s a very large part of me that wants to see three little boys sitting in a row with their hair combed and their faces clean and their shirts monogrammed smiling in coordinating outfits.

But then I get an email from Gray with a picture of my baby looking up at me with fresh eyes, a picture of him yawning, of another picture me stroking his soft, downy head, and I just go to pieces.

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I cry because the moments are so beautiful. I cry because I also know I can’t remember those moments with my other boys.

There are moments when I’m sure I’ve thought to myself “I want to remember this forever,” and there many times I’ve intentionally tried to burn a moment into my brain. But, when I try to conjure those memories up, I can only find blurry glimpses of most of them in my memory.

I’d love to be able to look over, just one more time, and see a tiny baby Harrison peacefully sleeping in bed beside me. How I wish I could remember exactly what Whitt looked like when he was content in my arms after nursing. I can almost see that little dribble of milk in the corner of his lip, but I can’t quite call up a clear image of it. What I wouldn’t give to have pictures of these moments, even if it meant I had dirty hair and puffy eyes.

And so, I am eternally grateful that Gray, knowing me better, took pictures of me when I didn’t want her to, and lied to me so I didn’t realize she was doing it at first, and then sent them to me anyway. 

Thank you, Gray.

And to Grant – you’re my third boy. I hope a future you can forgive me for the bows, and gowns, and bonnets, and diaper covers you will wear. Maybe, even one day, you will even appreciate the timelessness of them. I have a picture of my grandpa, your great-grandpa, wearing a gown as a baby. It is one of my most prized possessions.  Perhaps, one day, your grandchildren will cherish one of these photos of you. I love you, sweet boy.

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Farris’ Fifth – a Halloween-themed birthday party

Farris' Fantastically Frightful Fifth | the Maypop | Halloween themed birthday party inspiration

Do you remember Farris, my Carnival Party muse? Well, I had the pleasure of planning a spooky soiree for her fifth birthday recently, and I’m excited to share the details with you today.

Let’s start with the invitations. The three images below served as my inspiration…

Farris' Fantastically Frightful Fifth | the Maypop | Halloween themed birthday party inspiration

Michele Purner Designs /  Groovy Graphics / Stamp and Seal

 

I especially loved the image in the center from Groovy Graphics., and it was the one that got the wheels in my head really turning. Farris’ mommy, Gray, is an amazing children’s photographer. With my vision and her talent, I knew we could create something really special, something unique and personal, and something that would make a wonderful keepsake. It took me a while to convince Gray that she had the time and that she could do this, but I’m so glad I pushed her.

So, with four kids between us and no sitter to help, we spent a (crazy) afternoon posing Farris. I had a list of poses that I wanted her to fake – holding a pumpkin, flipping through a spellbook, looking at a raven on her finger, and flying on a broom. She nailed flying on a broom, with a little help from a very pregnant me holding her cape.

Farris' Fantastically Frightful Fifth | the Maypop | Halloween themed birthday party inspiration

 

After a little photoediting magic from Gray, this is what we came up with….

 

FRONT:

Farris' Fantastically Frightful Fifth | the Maypop | Halloween themed birthday party inspiration

 BACK:

Farris' Fantastically Frightful Fifth | the Maypop | Halloween themed birthday party inspiration

 

SIDE BY SIDE:

Farris' Fantastically Frightful Fifth | the Maypop | Halloween themed birthday party inspiration

I made the keys with my Silhouette Cameo, attached them with twine, and then we sent the invitations in black envelopes. The birthday girl herself even addressed a few. Sentimental me couldn’t resist including this picture.

Farris' Fantastically Frightful Fifth | the Maypop | Halloween themed birthday party inspiration

 

For the decor, I thought it was more important to have a few special vignettes than it was to decorate the whole house. So I focused on staging a few key areas in the foyer, entry hall, and dining area. I had so much fun staging this party and was able to use several things that Gray already owned. Everything else was purchased from Amazon, Michaels, WalMart, and various dollar stores.

 

Farris' Fantastically Frightful Fifth | the Maypop | Halloween themed birthday party inspiration

Farris' Fantastically Frightful Fifth | the Maypop | Halloween themed birthday party inspiration

Farris' Fantastically Frightful Fifth | the Maypop | Halloween themed birthday party inspiration

Farris' Fantastically Frightful Fifth | the Maypop | Halloween themed birthday party inspiration

Farris' Fantastically Frightful Fifth | the Maypop | Halloween themed birthday party inspiration

Farris' Fantastically Frightful Fifth | the Maypop | Halloween themed birthday party inspiration

We made sure the kids had fun too, planning several fall festivities.

Apple bobbing.

Farris' Fantastically Frightful Fifth | the Maypop | Halloween themed birthday party inspiration

Farris' Fantastically Frightful Fifth | the Maypop | Halloween themed birthday party inspiration

Potion mixing (my personal favorite).

Farris' Fantastically Frightful Fifth | the Maypop | Halloween themed birthday party inspiration

Farris' Fantastically Frightful Fifth | the Maypop | Halloween themed birthday party inspiration

And a donut eating contest.

Farris' Fantastically Frightful Fifth | the Maypop | Halloween themed birthday party inspiration

Farris' Fantastically Frightful Fifth | the Maypop | Halloween themed birthday party inspiration

I’d say a good time was had by all.

Farris' Fantastically Frightful Fifth | the Maypop | Halloween themed birthday party inspiration

Happy birthday, Farris. I can’t believe the tiny five-pound baby I remember holding is now five years old. It was a joy to plan your party and to be part of this special celebration. I love you, sweet girl!

Farris' Fantastically Frightful Fifth | the Maypop | Halloween themed birthday party inspiration

 

Beautiful photos by Gray Benko.

 

 



Meet Grant Reynolds

Oh friends, sweet friends, Baby G3 is finally here. Grant Reynolds arrived at 9:32 pm on Monday, October 13.

First selfie in the hospital

First selfie in the hospital

I’m sorry I haven’t blogged in a while, but his impending arrival was occupying my every thought. I’ll be back up and running over here at the Maypop soon, and I have lots in store for you.

But in the meantime, all I can do is hold Grant, and kiss him, and snuggle him, and just breathe him in. Even his poop smells sweet to me (or at least like buttered popcorn, according to my husband). I feel like this newborn stage flies by so quickly, so I am doing my best to soak it all in.

His big brothers are smitten with him too…well, Harrison is…Whitt vacillates between wanting to squeeze him to death (out of love) or poking his eyes out while he points to and names each body part, “ears, mouf, nose, “honk”, eyes”.

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More pictures and baby posts coming soon – you can count on that.



Ashley Woodson Bailey – Luxe Art for Less

DIY: Luxe for Less. How to frame and mat inexpensively using Ashley Woodson Bailey notecards | the Maypop

This year, as part of my goals, I’ve been trying “make new this house a home” and to pull a few rooms together, especially before the new baby comes. For the most part, I’m working with what I have in terms the larger pieces of furniture, but I’ve tried to freshen up the linens and accessories like art.

In my search for accessories, I stumbled across the stunning floral artwork of Ashley Woodson Bailey (thank you, Tristan!)

Ashley Woodson Bailey Notecards | the Maypop | DIY Budget Art Project

Cafe

I love the moodiness and the richness of her photographs, especially her Dark series.

Ashley Woodson Bailey | the Maypop | DIY Budget Art Project

“Harvest”

Ashley Woodson Bailey | the Maypop | DIY Budget Art Project

“Banks”

Ashley Woodson Bailey | the Maypop | DIY Budget Art Project

“Radiant”

I want one of these prints. I certainly consider them in the “worthy investment” category. Unfortunately, the reality of “worthy investment” does not always parallel the balance in my pocketbook. It does not always mean that this stay-at-home mom-of-two-with-another-on-the-way can justify that purchase (and I say this realizing that her photos will seem very reasonable to some of you).

Still, I love her work, and I was determined to find a way to include her photos in a mini master bedroom update.

I was determined to achieve luxe for less. And, I think I was successful.

First, I grabbed a pack of her beautiful notecards for $25.

Ashley Woodson Bailey Notecards | the Maypop | DIY Budget Art Project

Dark Notecards

Next, I purchased five 16×20 frames at Michaels for around $13/each, $65 total. Then, I sprayed the frames gold with some paint I’d purchased for another project, so that cost me $0. Finally, I used painter’s tape (washi would also work) to “mat” them on these foam core boards that I found at Target for $6/3 pack ($12 total for 2 packs).

DIY: Luxe for Less. How to frame and mat inexpensively using Ashley Woodson Bailey notecards | the Maypop

To assemble the prints, I used a tape measure to center the cards, taped them shut with a loop of painter’s tape, and then I used another small loop of tape on the back to secure them in place. This project could not have been simpler.

DIY: Luxe for Less. How to frame and mat inexpensively using Ashley Woodson Bailey notecards | the Maypop

DIY: Luxe for Less. How to frame and mat inexpensively using Ashley Woodson Bailey notecards | the Maypop

So, for a little more than $100, I have five stunning Ashley Woodson Bailey prints. I especially love the look of the wide mat, even if it is a faux mat.

DIY: Luxe for Less. How to frame and mat inexpensively using Ashley Woodson Bailey notecards | the Maypop

The hardest part of this project was spray painting the frames, and that only took a few minutes (says my husband, as I’m pregnant and not using spray paint).  And, since the foam boards were the same size as my frames, it really only took me a few minutes to assemble everything once the kids were in bed!

Looking for more DIY or quick decorating ideas? Check out the 10 Minute Decorating Ideas at Finding Home.

 



On swollen fingers and a baby ring tradition

I’m at the 36 week mark, and I’ve been lucky to not have as much swelling with this third pregnancy as I have with my other two. I think, mostly, it’s because I’m so busy chasing little boys around that my blood is circulating constantly and fluid simply does not have the time to accumulate. There have a been a few days when my feet were painfully swollen, such as on a long car trip over Labor Day weekend. But, it has been a far cry from the pitting edema I experienced regularly, especially with my second pregnancy, and especially when I was sitting at my desk all day.

While my legs and feet (and face!) are not as swollen as before, if I get too warm, I have noticed my hands starting to swell and my rings feeling a little tight.

And while there is nothing comfortable or attractive about my newly puffy hands, I’ll be honest, I get a little excited…

You see, in addition to the engagement ring and wedding band I wear daily, I have a few other special rings that I don’t get to wear often. They are sized a little large, so pregnancy is the perfect time to pull them out and wear them in lieu of my wedding band and engagement ring.

Pregnancy rings | swollen fingers during pregnancy | Heirlooms | Cocktail rings | the Maypop

The first ring is a pear-shaped cocktail ring that belonged to my maternal grandmother, Madeline. We are so lucky to still have Grandma with us, and I often wonder why she parted with this gorgeous ring. Before I got married, I wore it almost every day on my left hand. Unfortunately, it does not fit a finger on my right hand perfectly, and it seems too gaudy to wear it on my left hand with my other rings, so I rarely wear it now. After I finish having children, I’ll definitely have this one permanently sized. But for now, I LOVE pulling out this gorgeous ring when my hands are a little swollen.

The other rings that I wear are from a diamond waterfall cocktail ring that belonged to my paternal grandmother, Grace. When the ring was passed to me, it was missing a few stones. So, I had the various-sized diamonds reset into two anniversary bands. I love wearing them together (and wouldn’t mind having a few more stackable rings to wear with them, but I digress). As with the cocktail ring, they are a little large for my right hand, so I also don’t wear them regularly. And again, once I’m finished having children, I plan to have them sized to wear more often.

Pregnancy rings | swollen fingers during pregnancy | Heirloom Opal Ring | Cocktail rings | the Maypop

Since this baby is due in October and will have an opal birthstone, I’ve been wearing one more special ring. My maternal grandfather made this fire opal ring, and it’s always been one of my favorite pieces of jewelry.

Pregnancy rings | swollen fingers during pregnancy | Heirloom Opal Ring | Cocktail rings | the Maypop

In the meantime, and ever sentimental, I love pulling these special family heirloom rings out when I am pregnant. It’s comforting to know that they still fit when nothing else will, except maybe Eric’s t-shirts, one of which I wore embarrassingly in public yesterday.

How’s that for making lemons from lemonade?

Looking towards the future, and always thinking of my sweet boys, I also get excited about these rings, passed down from my grandparents, one day being on ring bearer pillows in their weddings.

I’m not sure if it’s a Southern tradition or a modern tradition or where it originated or anything else, but I’ve always heard that you use these “baby rings,” the rings you wore (real or faux real) when your hands were swollen during pregnancy to tie to the ring bearer’s pillow as a “stand in” during the wedding.

Nautilus shell ring bearer pillow | beach wedding inspiration | the Maypop

Nautilus shell ring bearer pillows via By the Seashore Decor

If you don’t have any family heirlooms, then I think pregnancy is the perfect time to invest in a ring to wear now and pass down later. Here are a few vintage rings with various birthstones that I found on Etsy. All would make beautiful, special, timeless heirlooms but are still statement-worthy for now.

Pregnancy Rings | Vintage Christian Dior Ring | the Maypop

For a September Baby – Vintage Christian Dior via Syrtis4

Pregnancy ring | vintage opal ring | the Maypop

For an October baby – a stunning mix of opals via Estate Deals

Pregnancy Ring | Vintage amethyst and jade ring | the Maypop

February – Amethyst and Jade via Crown Estate Jewelry

And if you’re not the sentimental sort, then buy the largest, best looking fake you can afford. Why not rock a crazy “diamond” for a little while?

Pregnancy ring | Nordstrom Ariella Cushion Cut Ring | the Maypop

Just $38 at Nordstrom!

Have you heard of this tradition? Were you able to wear your rings when you were pregnant, or did you get something else too?



Top 5 dinosaur books for children

Top 5 Dinosaur Books for Children | the Maypop

 

Harrison loves dinosaurs. I’ve talked about how we look for dinosaurs in our neighborhood during our evening walks, about how we need just the right gear to search for fossils, and about how we spend countless hours reading library books on the topic or picking up books from our favorite bookstore.

Today, I want to talk a little bit more about the dinosaur books that Harrison likes the most. Our library has a twenty-five book maximum, and there have been many visits where we filled our basket with almost dinosaur books exclusively. I’d confidently say we’ve read more than one hundred dinosaur books, both fiction and nonfiction. Naturally, several books have risen to the top.

Below are the top five dinosaur books for children that we continue to check out again and again or have even added to our own home library.

Top 5 Dinosaur Books for Children

#1

The Dinosaurs Of Waterhouse Hawkins

Top 5 Dinosaur Books for Children | the Maypop

 

This book is our favorite, and it is one we’ve added to our own personal collection.

Do you listen to the Stuff You Missed in History Class podcasts? Well, I feel like Waterhouse Hawkins should be one of the featured topics.

Seriously – until Harrison picked up this book at the library, I’d not heard of Mr. Waterhouse Hawkins. I did not realize that, in the mid-1800s, he created some of the first true-to-size models of dinosaurs. I was unaware that his dinosaurs were part of the Crystal Palace Exhibition.

And I certainly had no idea that several of his Crystal Palace Dinosaurs survive today.

If you’re intrigued, then you’ll love this book. Part story, part documentary, beautifully told by Barbara Kerley. It’s a longer read, but Harrison (4) sat through the entire book. It helps that is superbly illustrated by Brian Selznick, as is evidenced by the book’s Caldecott Honor distinction.

#2

Dinosaur Named Sue: The World’s Most Complete T. Rex

Top 5 Dinosaur Books for Children | the Maypop

Harrison likes this book primarily because it is about a T Rex, his favorite meat-eating dinosaur. Specifically, it is the story of Sue, the largest, most complete, and best preserved tyrannosaurus rex skeleton ever found. With the Waterhouse Hawkins book, it’s the story that is so compelling to Harrison. With Sue, it’s the realism told in such detail. I can see his little mind absorbing every detail of Sue Hendrickson’s discovery.

This is the book that makes him want to be a paleontologist. This is the book that has him dragging me around the woods searching for T Rex skeletons.

Me? I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Sue in person at the Field Museum. I’m partial to this book because I’ve seen first-hand how magnificent she is and because knowing her story only makes her that much more astonishing.

#3

Dinomummy

Top 5 Dinosaur Books for Children | the Maypop

 

Similar to Sue above, Dinomummy is the story of a dinosaur fossil discovery, a duck-billed hadrosaur. What makes this fossil unique is that it is the best preserved dinosaur mummy – three-dimensional and complete with some skin and soft tissue!

What makes this story unique is that it is told from the perspective of Tyler Lawson, who was just sixteen at the time of his find and only six when he began hunting for dinosaur bones found his first fossils. The photographs in this story are really amazing too; even I found myself studying the pages, staring at the dinosaur mummy and especially its skin.

As with the book about Sue, Dinomummy has Harrison convinced that he himself can find a dinosaur fossil. In fact, I think he’s even more convinced by this story because he realizes Tyler was so close to his age when he found his first fossils. My challenge is encouraging this passion while also trying to explain that we don’t exactly live in the dinosaur fossil-rich Hell Creek, South Dakota area. We’ve found lots of shark teeth and ray crushing plate fossils, but they unfortunately pale in comparison to a tyrannosaurus rex skeleton or hadrosaur mummy.

 

#4

Inside-Outside Dinosaurs

Top 5 Dinosaur Books for Children | the Maypop

 

This is a simple book, but it is still one of our top picks. Each two-page spread is illustrated with a dinosaur skeleton followed by an illustration of that same dinosaur, with skin and other details, on the next two page spread. The illustrations are fun, neither extremely juvenile nor overly scientific. The only words are the names of the dinosaurs and meanings of the names (ex: BRACHIOSAURUS, “arm lizard”). Harrison really likes “reading” this book independently and studying the pictures.

This book was one of the most helpful for early reading and letter recognition. I didn’t anticipate this when I checked it out at the library, and I was surprised when he wanted to spell every long name, pointing to each letter in every dinosaur’s name.

#5

Dinosaur Bob and His Adventures with the Family Lazardo

Top 5 Dinosaur Books for Children | the Maypop

Oh how we adored this story! This is a true work of magical fiction and fun. While on vacation, a safari in Africa to be specific, the Lazardo children stumble upon a dinosaur and the eccentric and wealthy parents agree that they can keep the dino as a pet. They name him Bob, and the hilarious adventures that follow are reminiscent of Emily Elizabeth and her adventures with Clifford the Big Red Dog.

Harrison giggled as we read this one, not so secretly wishing that we would stumble upon our own dinosaur pet. I secretly wished our vacations included a safari in Africa, but I’m getting off topic.

The pictures are fantastic; William Joyce is as great an illustrator as he is a story teller. It is a perfect bedtime story, with just enough ups and downs to stay interesting. I’d consider it a modern day classic, in fact.

 

Do you have a junior paleontologist on your hands too? What are your children’s favorite dinosaur books? Please share in the comments!

 

This post contains affiliate links.



On hostess gifts and getting by with a little help from my friends

Simple hostess gift idea | dress up a bottle of wine | the Maypop

I’m a little teary as a write this post, overwhelmed with sentimentality and gratitude; humbled by the love of friends; and excited about the new baby soon joining our family in a few weeks.

Throughout this pregnancy, my friends have made me feel so special. They’ve done things like bring me my favorite pad thai and homemade biscuits and jelly for no reason. They’ve driven me around (I hate driving). They’ve given me maternity clothes. (I’d given everything away after two pregnancies, and I’ve refused to buy anything this time around. My wardrobe is sad. Very sad). They’ve watched my boys while I went to the doctor. They’ve filled the late afternoon and evening hours that are always so tough for me when Eric is out of town. Sometimes, they’ve come up here for pizza and a movie and then headed home just when it was time to tuck the kids in for bed. Other times, they’ve cooked dinner for us, helped me bathe the boys, and then sent us home in borrowed pajamas so that I could put them straight in bed when we got home. They’ve listened to my crazy hormonal breakdowns and have then promptly forgotten them, as only true friends will do. They’ve visited despite the mess that my house is right now because I’m in fierce nesting mode and have too many decor projects going on at once.

Like the Beatles, I’ve thought several times to myself lately “I get by with a little help from my friends” (but not high, it seems prudent to note especially when I’m expecting).

Folded notecard via Recipe for Crazy

Folded notecard via Recipe for Crazy

 

And today, they gave me the sweetest baby shower. I told them it wasn’t necessary, that I didn’t want anyone to spend more money on me, and that this was, after all, my third pregnancy. But they insisted, scheduling the loveliest brunch (my favorite meal), bringing the cutest monogrammed cookie favors (which my boys devoured before I could snap a picture), setting the table with a gorgeous arrangement of hydrangeas, and showering me with gifts anyway.

To show them how grateful I was, and feeling crafty, I thought I would whip up a little hostess gift. But, after a couple of failed DIY attempts, I decided to go the safe route, opting instead to dress up a bottle of wine.

Simple hostess gift idea | dress up a bottle of wine | the Maypop

With fall in mind (despite 90 degree temps), I focused on deep, rich reds as a color palette. I selected a Malbec with a dark cherry foil wrapper, added a fiery pincushion and some purple-red leaves, and then wrapped them up with craft paper and twine.

Since the hostesses are also mothers, I thought “a little wine to cope with the whine” was appropriate to scribble on craft paper tags left over from the Bow or Beau shower I cohosted a couple weeks ago.

Simple hostess gift idea | dress up a bottle of wine | the Maypop

 

I thought this hostess gift turned out cute, certainly much better than the failed DIY, and it was a reminder that simple, classic gifts are often the best.

However, this bottle of wine still seems so paltry compared to overwhelming sense of gratitude I have for my girls.

babyG3shower

I feel so blessed to call this group of women my friends. I’ve written about this before, and it only becomes truer with time; they really are like family to me. And, because I don’t have any family in town, I cherish their friendships that much more. In fact, as the shower wrapped up, they were already planning who will watch the boys when I deliver and how and when they will bring us meals once the new baby arrives.

I’m not sure how I got so lucky. I love you all so much! Xoxo

 

 



Charger plates: proper etiquette

Etiquette for charger plates | the Maypop

I mentioned these gorgeous Pottery Barn Black Inlay Chargers in yesterday’s post. It’s been a little while since we talked about etiquette or manners, so I thought I would follow up today with a brief post on charger etiquette.

In general, and particularly in formal settings, the charger plate is used to serve the courses preceding the main course, such as soup or salad. Although, the salad course historically came after the main course. In fact, we could digress completely on the topic of courses and their proper orders…

Nonetheless, the charger should be on the table when guests are seated. The early courses are served with the charger underneath. The charger is then removed prior the main course being served. At no point should food be served directly on the charger.

If you’re serving an informal dinner and are surrounded by your friends and family, then I think it’s okay to improvise on the charger etiquette.

For example, let’s say you serve crackers and pimento cheese around your kitchen island before dinner.  After this classic Southern appetizer, you lead your guests to your dining room, where you’ve set the table ahead of time with your newly monogrammed napkins and the dinner plate directly on top of a pretty charger.

Vintage monogram in fresh colors | the Maypop

via Southern Living

You and your guests then sit down for a dinner of fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, and biscuits, all served family style.

And, in this case, I would say it is perfectly appropriate to enjoy your finger-licking goodness together, dinner plate on top of charger, and then remove both the dinner plate and the charger together, before serving warm peach cobbler and vanilla ice cream for dessert.

To sum, remove a charger after early courses but before the main course during a formal meal. During an informal meal, the charger may remain for the main course, but it should certainly be removed along with the dinner plate prior to serving dessert.