Leighton’s First Christmas

IMG_2535

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and this one was no exception, as it was Leighton’s first Christmas! Even though she doesn’t have a clue what fun we’ve been having this season, it’s amazing how much more exciting and special every holiday gathering, party, and activity becomes once you have a child to share them with.

IMG_2492

Coco has also enjoyed Christmas — she got some new toys and treats, and she loved having my family and Lauren’s family over for our annual dinner, which we did a couple nights before Christmas this year. We had fried turkey, popovers, and lots of delicious sides and desserts. I made a butter pecan cake (I got the recipe from Craig’s grandmother over Thanksgiving), and it was a big hit. On Christmas Eve, we headed to Lauren’s parents’ home for a big group dinner with lots of their family and friends. Andrew and Lauren cooked an Italian feast, and we stayed for hours visiting with everyone. These two nights have  become some of my favorite yearly traditions. Also, Leighton turned over a new leaf this week and decided she’d let lots of new people hold her, which was a very welcomed surprise!

IMG_2493

IMG_2517
IMG_2499
blog1
blog2
blog3

IMG_2557

On Christmas morning, we got up with Leighton to see what Santa brought her, which was fun for us, even though she doesn’t yet understand just how exciting this is. For her gifts, we went with the “want, need, wear, read” gift guideline, and she got a couple things from each category. Her “want” was a colorful Bla Bla Kid travel play mat, which is so cute and soft! For her “need,” she received a pink suitcase with her name embroidered on it (and the cutest little matching travel case) for all of our upcoming trips. She also got a silicone bib, a Wonderwoman bib/cape, and a set of baby spoons because she’ll soon be starting on rice cereal (how is that possible?!). She got several new colorful headbands and a tiny pair of gold moccasins for “wear.” And finally, for “read,” she got 2 board books to add to her collection — Noah’s Ark and Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type. 

IMG_6229

She had her 2nd Christmas at my parents’ new house in Marietta. They cooked a big breakfast, and we all opened gifts — Leighton was thrilled to get the pony she wanted! (Don’t tell her it’s not real.) I can’t get over the adorable clothes she received, as well as a really cute personalized book, The Little Girl Who Lost Her Name, and a sweet wooden name puzzle that my dad had made for her.

IMG_2592

To continue our celebrations, we headed to Nashville to spend the rest of the weekend with Craig’s family. Leighton surprised us even more by letting several people hold her at the big family dinner…a Christmas miracle! She was spoiled with more generous gifts, including additions to her growing wardrobe, some learning toys and a pink swing, and THE CUTEST baby bathrobe with her nickname, LL Cool Hayes, embroidered on the back. It totally looks like a boxing robe, which is pretty hilarious to envision.

IMG_2607
IMG_2612

We had a fairly low key couple days with Craig’s family, but we did manage to coordinate a big lunch with several of our friends who went to high school with Craig. It was great to catch up and introduce LL to those who hadn’t yet met her.

IMG_2639
IMG_2626
IMG_2622
It’s hard to believe that Leighton’s first Christmas has already come and gone, but what a memorable week it was! I can only imagine the holiday fun we’ll experience with her as she gets older!

Leighton’s 1st Thanksgiving

Last week we celebrated Leighton’s first Thanksgiving, and oh how much we have to be thankful for this year!! The addition of our little girl to our family is of course the biggest blessing we’ve received not just this year, but ever.

Our first trip to Nashville with baby in tow was definitely different than last trips, but we had so much fun trekking around the city introducing her to family and friends. We spent 4 nights there with Craig’s family, but we managed to pack about a month’s worth of visits in while we were there. And along the same lines, we packed half our house to make the trip! Here are a few of our favorite moments from the trip (not pictured are visits with several other friends — somehow, I forgot to snap any photos!).

The perfect baby traveller is a sleeping one::
IMG_1814
Cheering on Aunt Cassie at her basketball game::
IMG_1824
4 generations with Craig’s grandparents and a portrait of his mom, Karen::
IMG_1888
IMG_1895
I think it’s now confirmed that L looks just like her daddy::
IMG_1836
IMG_1896
IMG_1908
IMG_1906
Thanks for my Gobble onesie, Addison!
IMG_1922

Thanksgiving #2::
12299320_994450433951629_2009683306865888208_n (1)
Craig’s family surprised us with a mini shower and sent us home with all sorts of goodies!
12279201_994450757284930_1864759656578848375_n
A fun afternoon at Arrington Vineyards::
IMG_1948
Quality time with some of my best girls::
IMG_1964
L didn’t quite cooperate for a photo with Craig’s parents, but we’ll take it!
IMG_1971

The holidays have always been something I look forward to — spending time with loved ones, eating delicious food, doing nice things for others, and taking time to really appreciate our many blessings. Having a baby has made these occasions so much more special and memorable, and I know that feeling will only multiply as she gets older. We can’t wait to get back to Nashville next month for Christmas!

celebrating 90

unnamed (4)

My grandmother Nana turned 90 this month — what an incredible milestone in life! We packed up what seemed like everything in our house to travel with the bebe down to Jacksonville, FL last weekend for her big celebration.

To be honest, I’d been stressed about this trip for weeks. Taking a barely one month old baby on a 5 hour drive out of state did not seem like the most fun idea, especially considering she’d never spent more than an hour in her car seat. But we were pleasantly surprised at how well she traveled! She slept almost the entire trip down, and she was pretty easy the entire weekend. Maybe everyone was right by saying this really is a good age to travel with. 🙂 My cousin Alli and her family were gracious enough to host us at their home so we didn’t have to be cooped up in a hotel room with a newborn, and it made our trip so much better. She even had mints on our pillows… Hotel Vogt is the 5 star!

unnamed

We had the best time visiting with all of my mom’s family, and I’m so happy that all of my aunts, uncles, cousins, and other extended relatives got to meet Leighton so early in her little life. Most importantly, our grandmother Nana got to hold and love on her newest great granddaughter! It was a sweet, lovely sight.

unnamed (1)

Aside from visiting with family, we spent some time down in Avondale, which is the cutest area of boutiques and restaurants. We had a fantastic brunch at Brick Restaurant, and mama got a long-awaited mimosa! After helping with some birthday party setup, we headed back to Avondale for some football watching, beer drinking, and hot pretzel eating at the nicest Mellow Mushroom I’ve ever seen.

unnamed (5)
unnamed (6)

Saturday night, we celebrated Nana’s 90th birthday with a big party at my aunt and uncle’s home, which used to belong to my grandparents. I love going back to this house because it brings back so many great childhood memories – and it’s a fantastic place for parties! Nana was surrounded by not only all of her family, but many of her lifelong friends, which was really neat to see. We dined on Cuban food outside under strings of lights and colorful lanterns, watched college football (not happy about that Georgia game), and watched a sweet slideshow documenting Nana’s wonderful life. It was a perfect celebration for our favorite Nana!

unnamed (9)
unnamed (3)
unnamed (8)
unnamed (7)

a very merry christmas

I hope everyone had a very merry Christmas/Hanukkah/anything else you may celebrate! We had a really wonderful week off work visiting Craig’s family and several of our friends in Nashville and then heading back home to Atlanta to spend some time with my family. I just love this time of year — especially the lights, music, food, and fun. For me, it’s a season of giving, spending time with those you love, and being thankful for our great, many blessings.  Here’s a recap of our holiday week…. it’s hard to believe it’s already over and that we’re focusing on the coming new year!
IMG_7308
IMG_7320
Early Christmas dinner at Craig’s grandparents’ house with his little sister and his brother’s girlfriend… and Coco who was not interested in smiling for a photo.
IMG_7337
IMG_7325
IMG_7338
The lights in the Cottonwood neighborhood in Franklin put the Atlanta neighborhoods to shame. So many festive houses!
IMG_7351
Happy Hour @ Urban Grub with one of my besties
IMG_7341
IMG_7350
IMG_7358
IMG_7362
Christmas with the Sims family in ATL (notice Riley is much better than Coco is at posing for photos…) 
IMG_7374

Yep — this was my Christmas night dinner! 
IMG_7364

One of my favorite Christmas traditions is hosting a big dinner at our house every year for our family and my SIL’s parents who live in town. It’s so fun getting together with them, and we just love the chance to host everyone. My dad always fries a turkey, and this year, Coco got a prime spot for carving. 
IMG_7383
IMG_7381

As part of dessert, we served some of the icewine I brought back from Napa (which is actually made in Canada). It’s super sweet, but it was fun to share. 
IMG_7387

Here’s looking forward to what 2015 has to bring!!

five years

I_0393
Today is June 6, 2014… today marks our five-year wedding anniversary! We have made it to 1/2 a decade! Wow, that makes it sound like a really long time.  In reality, it seems like the time has flown by. I could go on and on, but I’ll keep it short and sweet. In honor of this milestone anniversary, I wanted to say this:

Craig, thank you for being my best friend, my teammate, and my cheerleader. Thank you for believing in me, keeping me grounded, and not getting too annoyed with my stubbornness. Thank you for being silly, being patient, and being so handy. Thank you for helping me start a monthly budget — because we all know I like to shop and eat out and decorate our house… but not spending every dollar we make is a far better plan. Thank you for taking care of my car, for taking out the trash, and for cooking a lot of our dinners. Thank you for wanting to spend so much of your time with me — even when we’re just running errands or doing projects at home, I enjoy being with you. Thank you for celebrating with me in the good times and for being my rock and doing whatever you can to make me feel better in the bad times. Thank you for being everything I could have hoped for in a husband and teammate.

I look forward to many, many more anniversaries and all the days in between. I love you so so muches! Motown + Craiggers 4 Life!

celebrating 31

October 20th is a pretty special day in our house. Craig turns 31 this Sunday, so he gets a special little post all to himself! I bet he’s blushing as we speak.

I promise not to be too mushy, because I know Craig just looooves when people do that for all the world to see, but I wanted to give him a shout out while we’re in Nashville for his birthday this weekend, because he’s pretty awesome.
c10

He cooks dinner! (And sometimes, he even helps clean up the mess he’s made while cooking said dinners.)
c1

He builds and fixes things!
c2

He’s the sweetest dad to Coco, and I know he’ll be even better with our non-furry children one day.
c4

He likes organizing cookouts and bus outings to football games for us and our friends to enjoy.
c7

He humors me and is generally just along for the ride (like driving a total of 3 hours just to go pumpkin picking or pretending to be attacked by a fake bear for our family’s entertainment on vacation).
c3

He’s not afraid to dress up like Santa, a redneck, or a pilot from Top Gun in the name of a good time.
Untitled-1

He loves my family like his own.
c8

I don’t know what I did to deserve it, but God graced me with the most incredible best friend and husband I could have ever asked for.
I hope you have the HAPPIEST of birthdays, Craig! I love you more than you’ll ever know!
c14

ringing in 30!

Last weekend, my darling husband and sweet, sweet sister-in-law and brother threw me the most amazing 30th birthday party! I am one lucky lady. They’ve spent the past couple months talking and planning and planning some more for this special bday bash, and I couldn’t be more thankful. It was evident all the thought and preparation and creativity that they put into the party, so I had to share. I truly couldn’t have planned a better celebration myself — it was perfect!

IMG_0286
Koozies, Mad Libs, a photo guest book documenting my 30 years, and fun little pony pens! Why ponies? I’d been asking for some details about the party for weeks, but of course they would give no information. Craig finally told me that there would be ponies at the party, and it quickly became a running joke. I’m glad they followed through. 🙂
IMG_0273

IMG_0274
How cute are those goggles? PS — Publix makes a delicious cookie cake. Watch out, Great American Cookie Co. 
IMG_0281

Coco’s sweet face even made an appearance at the party! 
IMG_0289

I am obsessed with these giant balloons and can’t wait to use them for whatever party I host next. Although I hear it’s not easy to transport them once blown up… 
IMG_0279

IMG_0292
I am so glad we got this photo of most of the girls. I love my friends like family, and all of these girls are so special to me!
IMG_0304
Best hosts and hostess, and also best family. Couldn’t ask for anything more with these three.
IMG_0308

IMG_0323

IMG_0330
IMG_0340

IMG_0372

IMG_0312
Love these gold balloons, too.
IMG_0377
It really was the best night and the best way to ring in 30 (a tad early).  They even had my favorite pizza-making friends, S & J’s Pizza, cater the party. It was a huge hit, as always. I am so thankful for amazing friends to celebrate with, and even more thankful for the most thoughtful, generous husband, brother, and sister-in-law for making me feel so special! Now on to Cabo this wknd to continue the celebration with my family!

weekend recap

Last weekend, my parents made the trek up from FL to help move my brother and sister in law into their first home. When we weren’t moving boxes and arranging/putting together furniture, we were eating. Seems to be a common theme when they’re here, which is fine by me. Both Lauren’s family and ours met up for dinner at THERE in Town Brookhaven, which is a great shopping/dining/entertainment center near their new neighborhood in north east Atlanta. As much as I love getting photos of everything we do, this is a rare one to have us all together.

Also, THERE has the most amazing grit cake on their menu. Just FYI.

2

After dinner, we got the grand tour of their new home! It was bare on Friday night, and by Sunday afternoon, almost everything was in place and ready for a party. Aren’t they just the cutest little homeowners?
6

I love the chalkboard paint on the pantry door in the kitchen!
5

My favorite part of their house is the gigantic deck and backyard. I have a feeling we’ll be spending many evenings here.
7

4

And in true fashion, my dad couldn’t wait to mow that lawn. Forget the house tour!
3

Congrats on your first home, guys! I look forward to spending lots of time visiting your new cute abode.

A Few of My Favorite Things (28) – Father’s Day edition

[Outfit of the week — I wore this for a newspaper interview I was asked to do with our Stella & Dot CEO/Founder, Jessica Herrin, and one of our Atlanta Senior Directors:: Neon citron skinnies (Old Navy) // Navy tank (Old Navy) // Kelly green cardigan (J. Crew outlet) // Stella & Dot Fiona Bib Necklace // Eden Studs // Secret Garden Ring // Renegade Bracelet // Christina Link Bracelet]
IMG_8083
[came home to a surprise — colorful new pretties to spruce up our mailbox]
IMG_8118

[dinner and a power outage at The Optimist…which led to dinner #2 at Verde]
IMG_8149

[starting father’s day wknd with a walk in the park]
IMG_8173

[convincing grandpa to hand over his cereal]
IMG_8195
[day trip to lake lanier with the family]
IMG_8206

[dinner at kevin rathbun steak] 
IMG_8220

[father’s day brunch at del frisco’s grille]
IMG_8227

P1010480

Happy belated Father’s Day to my dad, father in law, our grandpas, and all you dads out there! This week was a great one. It started out with being invited to take part in an interview for the Atlanta paper with Stella & Dot‘s CEO/Founder Jessica Herrin and one of my Stylist friends Anna, who is a Senior Director in Atlanta. Talk about a huge honor and a fun way to start the week! I am so excited to see my name in print alongside those two rockstars.

And in honor of Father’s Day, my parents came up from FL to visit for several days. We had quite a busy time! The first couple days were filled with dinner at The Optimist, Atlanta food truck park, and Kevin Rathbun Steak, tickets to the Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat puppet show, lunch at Bocado (my new favorite spot for an amazing burger), and a day out on the boat at Lake Lanier. We started Sunday off with a most delicious brunch at Del Frisco’s Grille in Buckhead, and then we drove around looking at houses that my brother and his wife are considering buying. It’s so fun to see them making their home owner dreams come true! The weekend ended perfectly — BBQ dinner at my brother’s inlaws’ house reminiscing about their wedding and celebrating our wonderful dads. We are truly blessed with amazing men to call our dads!

celebrating 60 years of mom!

My mom turned 60 on December 3rd… and what better way to celebrate than with a bunch of family and childhood friends? She is from Jacksonville, FL, and we still have a lot of family (and her friends) there, so it seemed like the obvious location for her party. The only problem is that my parents live about 4.5 hours away… so we had to come up with a plan to get her there on her own. Good thing my aunts and grandmother are good schemers! Mom was under the assumption that she was going to Jax last weekend for a little family welcome party for her aunt and uncle who are moving back to FL from CA. They aren’t moving until January, but she was none the wiser and agreed to come up to see everyone. She also thought my dad was going to be out of state for work all weekend. he he he

My aunt Lynn is a very talented watercolor painter, so she graciously offered to paint an image for the invitation. We went retro with the theme – the party was actually held at my mom’s childhood home, where my aunt and uncle now live. I scoured etsy.com (which is essentially like an online handmade marketplace) and found some great party decorations, like this felt birthday banner. I love the festive colors and the fact that I can reuse it on my mantle for every birthday in coming years.

mom2

I really wanted some cute decorative cookies as party favors, and I happened upon a website for Ali’s Sweet Treats in Miami, FL. I’d originally planned to do something decorative with icing… until I realized I could put mom’s face on them! I chose this photo of her as a child because it’s been hanging in our house for as long as I can remember, and it just looks so sweet — like the cookies. See what I did there?

mom4

MyPublisher.com is my favorite way to make photo books. I found the website on the Young House Love blog last year, and I’ve been a photo book-making fool ever since. It’s such an easy site to use, and you have endless options on layouts and styles. All you do is upload your photos to the site, and then it can auto-populate them into the book — but I always choose to create my own layouts because it allows me to group photos together in a specific way. MyPublisher is ALWAYS having some sort of sale, so you can get great discounts on books whenever you make them… and if you don’t see one when you’re ready to buy your book, then just save it and wait a few days — one is bound to pop up.

Here’s the photo book I created for mom’s party as a guest book for everyone to sign. I borrowed photos from her albums (under the guise of looking for wedding slideshow photos) when we were home this fall and scanned them so I could do a “celebration of 60 years” book::

mom3

mom5

In keeping with our retro theme, my aunt suggested serving “Not So Shirley Temples” — a grown-up twist on the classic — because this was their favorite drink during summers spent at the local country club.

mom6

Mom’s favorite people::
mom10

Mom, her brother, and her sister::

mom9

I love that after all these years, mom is still so close with her childhood best friends::

mom8

Cousins::

mom11

The Birthday Girl::
mom7

We wanted to have something fun for the guests to do, so we created a photo station. I borrowed this great red/white striped curtain from a neighbor (it just happened to perfectly match our theme), and bought some funny disguises and mini chalk boards on sticks on etsy. I bought some chalk markers in neon colors for guests to write messages. I also have a stash of costumes and props from my sorority days in college, so I threw in a fireman’s hat, feather boas, masks, etc. And my aunt had a TERRIFYINGLY realistic snake to add to the mix. It was Lauren’s favorite, by far. The photo area was so fun – I just wish we’d gotten more photos!

mom14
mom15
mom17

This absolutely should have been our family Christmas card photo this year::

mom16

mom13

Two of my favorite ladies — my mom and grandmother, Nana::

mom12

Mom’s cake was from For the Love of Cake, a relatively new bakery in Riverside. My cousin Alli recommended it, and it was a bit hit! They perfectly re-created the red Mary Jane’s that my Aunt Lynn designed for the invitation. You can’t see it in the photo, but the cake was sparkly, too!

mom18

Happy 60th Birthday, Mom!! We love you so much!

And here are some out-takes from setting up the photo station before the party…. enjoy!

party1
party2