Saturday, May 18, 2013

Happiness Is...the Scent of Confederate Jasmine

Springtime in Texas is beautiful, y'all.  And one of the pleasures of living in a new house this spring is discovering all of the treasures blooming in our garden.  Like this Confederate Jasmine, which perfumes my entire yard:

It's climbing the brick next to my living room windows, and I don't mind at all. The scent is intoxicating and happiness-inducing.

What's growing in your garden this spring?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Wedding Flowers

I was blessed to attend the wedding of a dear friend last weekend; after the ceremony, we celebrated with a beautiful luncheon reception.  I snapped a quick photo of one of the gorgeous purple and green floral centerpieces:

The arrangements were so spring-like and fresh, thanks to the brightness of the hydrangea. The lavender roses, however, reminded me of the centerpieces from my youngest daughter's amethyst-inspired christening party, which was held in autumn:

I love how the same rose can be used to evoke both the new beginnings of spring, and the rich jewel tones of fall.  Celebration in all, and of all, seasons.  

Friday, May 10, 2013

Teacher Appreciation Week: Day Four

After a week of pretty, sweet, and healthy treats for our teacher, it was time to get practical.  Blessed with a generous class gift fund, I created a bouquet of gift cards:

Although I got a chuckle out of this, I kept it wholesome and purchased gift cards from our teacher's favorite stores.  I taped each gift card onto a flower cut-out, attached the flower to a long craft stick, and inserted the stick into floral foam at the bottom of a pail.  I covered the floral foam with raffia, wrote "Thank you for helping us grow" and the year on the pail, and that's it!  An easy, cute way to present otherwise practical gift cards.

How are you honoring your children's teachers this week?

Sharing with Ladybird Ln

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Teacher Appreciation Week: Day Three

We had a day off from Teacher Appreciation gifting because our teacher was at a conference, but when she comes back to her classroom today, she'll find this:

A basket of apples, how cliche.  But when each apple is individually tied to an Apple Store gift card?

Much more fun!  Our school has smart boards in every classroom and issues an ipad to every student; our teachers are thus expected to be up-to-date on all things technology.  We're hoping she can use these Apple gift cards to buy apps, music, books, or even hardware of her choice.  Our teacher is APP-solutely wonderful, and as one of the homeroom moms, I'm having fun organizing class gifts for her this week!

Our Teacher Appreciation Week Plan: Something pretty (sunflowers in a pencil vase); something sweet (the bundt cake tower); something healthy (the apples); and something practical (tomorrow's bouquet of gift cards).   Each child is also presenting her with a handwritten card or letter on Friday.  We're saving the tear-jerker, personalized gifts from the kids for the end-of-year gift presentation in just two weeks.  :)

How are you honoring your teachers this week?

(Sharing with Five Days...5 Ways and Sun Scholars)

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Teacher Appreciation Week: Day Two

Our week-long appreciation of our first-grade teacher continues.  On Monday, this. On Tuesday, a tower of little bundt cakes in our teacher's favorite flavors:

By the way, if you haven't tried Nothing Bundt Cakes, you must.  They opened shop in my neighborhood last year, and they've become my go-to bakery for holidays and special occasions.  So. Amazing.  :-)

How are you honoring your teachers this week?

Monday, May 6, 2013

Teacher Appreciation Week: Day One

I did it:

after I pinned it:

A sweet bouquet of sunflowers, posing in a pencil-wrapped vase, ready to present to our first-grade teacher on the first day of Teacher Appreciation Week. As one of the homeroom moms, I'm responsible for coordinating the Teacher Appreciation effort.  And while the week will culminate in a practical presentation of gift cards, we wanted to surprise our beloved teacher with something pretty or fun every day.  

Pinterest to the rescue.  For this copycat project, I used a plain glass vase and ribbon I had on hand, exactly 40 pencils at a cost of $1.50, and a $10 bouquet of sunflowers.  I simply inserted the pencils between two rubber bands on the vase, and then covered the bands with ribbon.  I chose not to glue so that the pencils and vase would be reusable. Total cost, $11.50; total time invested, about 10 minutes. 

How are you celebrating your teachers this week? 

(Sharing with Making the World Cuter and My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia)

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Before and After: Kid's Bathroom

As another testament to the miracle of paint, here's a before and after of my middle daughter's jack-and-jill bathroom, which connects her new bedroom with the playroom.

Before: Lots of wallpaper and dingy cabinets.

After: Light, bright, and airy, thanks to Benjamin Moore's Barely Teal (which is one shade lighter than the playroom's Jamaican Aqua) on the walls and Atrium White on the cabinets and trim:

Eventually, the countertops and fixtures will need to be updated, but for now, wallpaper removal and fresh paint has brightened the room tremendously.  We finished the space with crisp white bath linens, clean white shades on the three windows, and charming prints from thewheatfield.

From tired to fresh, quite a nice change!  

(Are you new to the cul-de-sac?  I blog about nesting, nurturing, reading, traveling, and most of all, celebrating life with my family! If you like what you see, please consider joining the conversation via GFC or email.  I'm trying to get this blog off the ground and would love to get to know you! :)

Sharing with Between Naps on the Porch, Serenity NowThe Shabby Creek Cottage, Seven Thirty Three, Southern Lovely, My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia, French Country Cottage,  and Remodelaholic

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Amalfi Coast and Capri, Part II

Yesterday, I shared the Highlights #1-5 from my tenth anniversary trip to Italy's Amalfi Coast and Capri.  Today, I share # 6-10.

6.  An Evening at Le Sirenuse

In Positano, were content with our choice of the quiet Il San Pietro for accommodations, but it was fun to explore the legendary Le Sirenuse for cocktails and dinner.  We spent a leisurely two hours at the Champagne and Oyster Bar, where the coastline views and people-watching are both fabulous.  We even met the aforementioned author Amanda Tabberer, who just happened to be in town and having drinks with friends.  What fun to tell her that her book had inspired our trip!

Later, we dined al fresco at Le Sirenuse's famed restaurant, La Sponda.  This was my husband's favorite meal, and a close second to Rossellini's for me.  Each course was perfectly executed.

7.  The Flowers.  

I took exactly 541 pictures of flowers on the Amalfi Coast.  Coming from drought-ridden Central Texas, where I struggle to keep anything green alive, I was amazed by the vibrant colors and bountiful blossoms.  Beauty is everywhere, and you don't have to spend a penny to enjoy it:

8.  Anacapri

After leaving Positano, we stayed at the Caesar Augustus in Anacapri.  We liked the secluded cliff-top location, and the hotel offers a complimentary shuttle into Capri, or you can take the local bus, which we found very convenient.  We hiked Mount Solaro, shopped for handmade linen dresses for our daughters, and ate the best caprese salads ever.

The Caesar Augustus also encourages languid downtime.  Isn't this reading room, with its crisp red and white upholstery, charming?

I took this picture while swimming in the hotel infinity pool, which seemingly spilled into the sea 1000 feet below:

The bartender at the Caesar Augustus claims he makes the best bellinis in Italy.  His claim is legit; the peaches were fresh off a nearby tree.  With terrace views overlooking the entire Bay of Naples, this was happy hour at its finest:

9.  Capri

The town of Capri is bustling with very high-end retail boutiques, people who like to see and be seen, and dozens of cafes which are perfect for watching such people.  It's a busy place, too busy when the cruise ships dock, but full of charm when the sun sets and the day tourists leave. 

Capri is also home to the Blue Grotto, which is justifiably famous for its stunning waters.  It may be touristy, but it is still a must-do. The water is spectacular in color.

We also spent an entire day getting happily lost in "the real Capri," away from the crowds.  We hiked coastline trails and navigated narrow cobblestone streets.  At one point, we stumbled upon an old monastery that still houses an amazing art collection:

10. Pompeii

We saved a visit to the archaeological site for our last full day in Italy. A quick ferry from Capri to Naples and an efficient taxi ride from Naples to Pompeii brought us to the gates of the old city.  We spent hours perusing the ruins and marveling at the sophistication of the people who lived there.  It is not a "fun" excursion --- the ghosts of the lost Pompeii souls still linger --- but it is a humbling and important one.  

After our day in Pompeii, we checked into the Grand Hotel Vesuvio in Naples, which had a stunning waterfront location.  We ate fabulous pizza nearby, cursorily toured almost a dozen churches and cathedrals, and got a taste of Napoli before turning in to prepare for our early morning flight back to Texas and our kids. 

What a trip.  Luxurious.  Delicious.  Inspiring.  Rejuvenating.  And forever memorable.

(And once again, many thanks to Moonrings for the expert itinerary!)