Couples To Do List – Fall and Winter

Anne + Tyler 2009 Fall/Winter To Do List

1.) Go to a football game

2.) Go sledding

3.) Make s’mores outside

4.) Build a snowman

5.) Go ice skating together *Feb 24

6.) Host a movie night

7.) Tour a brewery *Feb 24

Just for fun. We brainstormed this list while Tyler was working late one night and we were chatting online, taking turns adding an item to the list. This list is dedicated to fun. It’s not an obligation – we don’t get in trouble for an incomplete list, but I think it will help us take advantage of the seasons. It’s so easy for things to slip your mind and before you know it, your weekend, vacation, or month is over and although you did the “important” stuff (clean the bathroom, buy groceries) you didn’t make time for the things you wanted to do together- as a couple, as a family or as an individual. There are a few more I’d like to throw in if we have time, like going to an orchard or pumpkin patch, but the weather is quickly turning wintery! We’ve already accomplished one item on our list:

1.) Go to a football game — We drove to a nearby town on Friday night to watch Tyler’s nephew play in a high school football game. The stadium was packed on both the home and away sides and I had fun trying to put my (relatively new) football knowledge to a real-life test. It’s definitely more difficult to tell what’s going on without the assistance of a team of camera men! We had a lot of fun.

I’m looking forward to seeing which item is next. I bet s’mores or a movie night will be next on the list…. I’ll keep you posted! ; )

3.) We made delicious, dark chocolate s’mores outside one crisp fall night. Tyler had left a fire burn in the chiminea all afternoon and he spread a blanket on the patio in front of it. I assembled the ingredients: Chocolate graham cracker, marshmallows, and Hershey’s special dark chocolate. Mmmm… delicious!

5.) During our anniversary trip to Kansas City, Tyler and I spent a brisk morning skating at the Crown Center Ice Terrace. I have never skated outdoors and had longed for the opportunity to try this twist on my favorite pastime. It was a bright, glittering morning with temperatures in the low teens. A chilly wind stung our ears and cheeks but it was such fun. Our weekday trip meant we had the ice to ourselves. If it hadn’t been so cold we would have stayed much longer, but as it was, an hour was quite enough time!

7.) Later in the same day, Tyler and I journeyed to the Boulevard Brewing Co. for a free tour and beer tasting. This was another highlight of our trip and we enjoyed the sights, sounds, smells, and of course, tastes, of our tour.

Sugar and Spice…

Sparkling Berry Lemonade

Naomi’s baby shower was Saturday, February 13. It was an open house style event to accommodate an expansive guest list of friends and well-wishers and I cannot even begin to tally how many hours I spent on this project. Despite the aching back, feet, fingers and head I took home on Saturday night, I think the results were well worth the effort. I especially want to thank my friend Michelle, who showed up and offered me moral support as I raced to finish all the appetizers, and of course, my husband Tyler who is always there for me when I need him. I also want to thank my mom and sisters for working so hard to get ready for the madness and for welcoming dozens of guests into their home with such warmth and hospitality.

I haven’t tallied up the final costs, but I did my best to plan a party with an estimated headcount of 70 on a budget. For a couple (or a few?) hundred dollars, we threw an event for dozens of people that featured refreshing beverages, a satisfying buffet, a gourmet hot chocolate bar, and coordinating decorations and table settings that helped set the mood. We got a bit of practice last year for my wedding so we had ideas about which finger foods were easiest to make and most popular. Lena even baked her signature shortbread cookies, much to my delight and my waistband’s chagrin, and she hadn’t tackled that tricky project since my wedding last February.

The theme was pink and white, gossamer and girly. Butterflies, tulle, lacy hearts and lots and lots of cupcakes (more on those later) set the mood. The decadent hot chocolate bar (lots more on that later) was so fun to set up and offered guests a favor that was both portable and indulgent, if they weren’t already too stuffed from the buffet. There is so much I want to share with you, including a few recipes, but sorting through the hundreds of pictures of the day will take some time, so for now I would like to share a few photos of the food and decor. Enjoy!

Glitter encrusted butterflies perched delicately around the room

Everything was kissed by pink, from the napkins to the placecards to the sprinkles on the cupcakes

The subject of a small study - guests ate more of the labeled food than the anonymous refreshments

Dried apricot crostinis with a feta cheese spread

Sundried tomato crostinis on a toasted french baguette

The smorgasboard extends as far as the eye can see and the stomach can fathom

Nursery – Nearing the Finish Line

All images C. Anne Dewvall. I knew you were dying to know.

Naomi’s baby shower is tomorrow and we have been hastily putting all the finishing touches on the nursery. It is adorable! I will post finished pictures later, but I wanted to share a few of the in-progress photos as a sneak peek. I’m excited for the baby shower. A tremendous amount of work has gone into making it special, and there are still many hours to go, but I am confident that it will be a lovely event, befitting my sister, my family, and my lovely niece-to-be. I can’t wait to share pictures of everything – especially the hot chocolate bar! (Shhhh! It’s sort of a surprise…) All this prep has also led to a potential business idea for me, so I am looking forward to working on that a little once the shower is over and sharing my ideas with all of you! Time for me to get busy- the count down is on. T-29 Hours!

Heart Shaped Doily Party Decorations

Inspiration. I hear that sometimes it strikes, but usually it manages to avoid me. Don’t misunderstand  – I am frequently inspired, but I normally see a more direct connection between my ideas and their birthplaces. Doilies have been popular in the blogosphere for a while now. I even did a post on them some months back. For Christmas and winter decorations, some suggested cutting snowflakes out of doilies and stitching them together. Honestly, I thought this ended up looking like crap.

However, Hobby Lobby has heart-shaped doilies for Valentine’s Day. Sew a few of these together, as I randomly did the other night, and BAM, you have adorable decorations perfect for a Valentine’s Party or teacher’s classroom, a wedding, a bridal shower, or in my case, a baby shower. The shower is roughly butterfly themed, with a pallet of whites and pinks so these are going to be perfect (although these are hearts the shape echoes the butterfly motif without being overly matchy)! They took mere minutes to throw together and at $1.47 a pack, are affordable as well. I plan to buy more today. I also stitched a few of the larger ones together, alternating the position of the heart, into a quick and easy table runner. These would also be cute glued to toothpicks and used to decorate cupcakes. Of course, you could also use them as doilies, but where is the fun in that.

Cozy Winter Breakfast

On cold, cold days, sometimes simple things are the best – like a hearty brunch of homemade biscuits and fried eggs. Taking a few minutes to set a pretty table elevates this occasion above the ordinary. Watching the snow fall outside as the candles flicker inside makes this breakfast feel even cozier.

A heart-shaped biscuit for my honey.

Hot Chocolate on a Stick

As I have mentioned before, I do not celebrate Christmas. However, winter is my favorite season and during this time of giving/receiving I feel it appropriate to make a small gesture toward my friends, family, and coworkers to thank them for their friendship and generosity and to provide a little treat to brighten the long winter days. Whether for a Christmas gift, a winter wedding favor, or just a small, cozy gesture for someone you love, I think you will agree that these gifts hit the spot. Enter: Hot Chocolate on a Stick.

I followed this recipe and made the portions in ice cube trays, adding an extra large “craft stick” as a handle for stirring. You can find craft sticks of a variety of kinds at Hobby Lobby. After allowing the chocolates to cool overnight, I wrapped them in cellophane, tied them with ribbon, and curled the ribbon. I placed the hot chocolates into tall resealable plastic bags. My favorite part was designing the packaging. I included helpful “instruction sheets” inside the bags. The packages are accented with patterned paper I bought at Hobby Lobby and cut into 3″ x 6″ strips then folded and stapled over the bag. I used patterned paper on some and red textured paper on others. The final touch is a gift tag wishing the recipient warm greetings from Tyler and me.

I did plenty of “quality control” and can assure everyone these are quite delicious ; ). The project was a bit time consuming, but easy enough for anyone to try. Even if you don’t plan to give these as gifts, they make it easy and convenient for you to enjoy individual portions of *real* hot chocolate any time you want. Don’t get confused, people, we are talking about hot chocolate, not hot cocoa, and there is a world of difference. Stay warm!