Monday, May 30

:: Horsing Around ::

Proving once again that a little foot surgery is not going to keep him down, Parrish went to his new friend Elle's house to ride her mommy's horse Jack this weekend. Although a little intimidated by the sheer size of him at first, he quickly warmed up and of course didn't want anyone to "help" him. Cannon had to spot him phantom-style to keep him from pushing his hand away and saying, "I don't need any help!" :) Elle's mommy is my friend and old co-worker at Southern Living. She's had horses her entire life and she and her sweet hubby Lloyd have built an amazing house and barn. We loved being there!!

Otherwise, this weekend has been filled with lots of bday celebrations for my sweet friend's Britney and Jen. Friday night we celebrated Brit by going out for mexican and Sunday night we had a delicious dinner celebration of filets and sushi at Jen's house. Way to go ship-shape, for planning a great dinner party all by yourself!!

Parrish swam with CC for the first time this summer yesterday and did great. We're going to try to get him in the water at least once a day to build his strength back up.

Today I'm excited for a Memorial Day cook-out at the Cash's house. I have to say that we are so used to going out of town for Memorial Day weekend that we thought it might be boring staying in town this year, but it has been nothing less than jam packed with fun. I hope you're all having a great weekend as well!

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Thursday, May 26

:: Roast Pork with Pears ::

We're hosting Cannon's aunt and uncle for dinner tonight, so Parrish and I made this recipe today. I've made it a few times and it is impressive (perfect for the boss' dinner, holidays, etc) without being difficult.

Roast Pork with Pears

3/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh sage, plus sage leaves for roasting
3 garlic cloves
Salt and pepper to taste
5 Tbsp olive oil
1 boneless pork loin roast, about 3.5 lbsm halved horizontally (I get the butcher to do this step for me)
3 ripe Bosc pears, halved lengthwise
4 leeks, white portions, halved lengthwise

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In mini food processor, process parsley, chopped sage, garlic, salt, pepper and 3 Tbsp oil into fine paste. Spread on cut side of one pork half; place other half on top. Tie roast with kitchen twine. Tuck sage leaves underneath twine. Season roast with salt and pepper.

I told Parrish to get next to the roast for a picture and he literally touched the side of his head to the raw roast. Oops. I couldn't stop laughing. I guess he took me literally.

In 5 1/2 qt. dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm 2 Tbsp. oil. Add pears, cut side down; cook 5 minutes. Transfer to plate. Brown pork on all sides, 8 minutes. Transfer to plate. Place leeks, cut side down, in pot in single layer. Set pork on top. Place pears along sides of pot.

Roast for 45-55 minutes. Transfer pork to carving board; tent with foil. Let rest 10 minutes. Transfer leeks and pears to platter. Slice pork; arrange on platter. Serves 8-10

(recipe from the Williams Sonoma catalog-I changed the type of pears to one that is in season during the summer)

Herb snippers-a life saver. I cook with a lot of fresh herbs during the summer and have recently found the solution to getting that tiny foliage off the stems without going crazy. These snippers (from Fresh Market-found in the produce section) have a center section that you place the herb stems in and then pull gently to remove the leaves! It's a snap. One more reason not to go the easy route and head to the spice cabinet!

I'm serving the roast with these baby carrots. I get tired of making the same old veggies and these provide some variety. You can get the recipe here.

Parrish helped me clip some hydrangeas from the yard for a centerpiece. Someone once told me that if you go to a lot of trouble with centerpieces and fancy dinners it looks like you're trying too hard because everyone knows it's not something you would normally do. I have the exact opposite opinion. I don't just do this for company. I don't always make a fancy dinner and have centerpieces on the table, but I do prepare meals with love and set a pretty table at least a few times a week because it is a way that I show my love to my family and friends and something that I both enjoy doing and get satisfaction from.

Parrish has been earning marbles now for about 2 years. A friend told me about this parenting tool and I love it. When Parrish does a chore (like setting the table) or gets a good report from school, or has good behavior, or has to have a shot, or does a workbook page, he gets to choose one marble for his jar. When the jar is full he gets to pick out a new toy. It helps so much with the daily shouts of, "mommy, come here-this is so neat-I want that!" while watching commercials. I just say, "oh, that's so cool. Are you going to earn your marbles for that?" He always says yes (and yes, every other day what he is earning his marbles for changes) and that's the end of it. Same goes for when we're at the store and he's begging for some toy. It instantly puts the ball back in his court. I've said no without making him feel like he's not in control. He knows that if he earns his marbles he can have it. Just not today. It has been a life saver for me. Telling Parrish I am going to take a marble from his jar for bad behavior is like telling him there is going to be no Santa Claus this year.

Better a small serving of vegetables with love than a fattened calf with hatred.
Proverbs 15:17

She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
She gets up while it is still night;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her female servants.
Proverbs 31:13-15

Wednesday, May 25

:: Bye-Bye Blue Cast ::

I've been itching to write this post for the last 8 weeks and the day has finally arrived. Drum roll, please! Parrish is out of his cast for good!!! We went in today and there was lots of healing shown in his x-rays, so he is now in a soft boot that can be removed for swimming and bathing. To say we are excited is the understatement of the century. Thank you to all of you who were praying for this outcome-God is good! We'll be going back to the doctor in 6 weeks to have the pins removed (apparently they weren't removed during the second procedure as we thought they had been) but it is apparently not too dramatic-just some laughing gas at the hospital and tiny incisions to pull out the pins, then the process should be over! Hallelujah!

From this...

To this...

And to continue the blue (because it IS my favorite color, mommy) theme he's got going...

Tuesday, May 24

:: Become Our FB Fan ::

Today I've been working on setting up a Facebook Fan Page for Olivia Charles Antiques where I will upload pictures of our products and festival information and images. There is also an RSS feed to this blog on the page, so you can be aware of new posts to this blog in addition to more recent FB status updates. I am also planning to run several fan contests to win Olivia Charles furniture and accessories in the near future, so pretty please like us on Facebook and spread the word to your friends and family!

Sunday, May 22

:: A Few Favorite Things ::

Thanks again for coming to Pepper Place and supporting Olivia Charles. We had a great turn out on Saturday and made lots of sales. We have the kids to thank for a lot of those sales! They couldn't resist plopping down in the youth adirondack chairs as they walked by. One grandfather of a little boy who came back three times said he had to buy one just to get him to leave! Guess we should have paid that little guy a commission. We left one great table behind at Charlie Thigpen's Garden Gallery, so stop by and take a look if you're needing an outdoor table. We'll be adding some benches for it this weekend and have decided to do Pepper Place one more Saturday, so we'll be back this weekend from 7-12 if you want to stop by.

I've recently found a few items that make me smile without spending a fortune and wanted to pass them along to you.

Most of you who know me well, know that I am love Pureology Shampoo and Conditioner. My sweet sister Caroline is a hair stylist and can get it at a good discount for me, so I always ask her to get it for me. But even with her discount it's not exactly "cheap" so I'm always on the hunt for a less expensive alternative (because let's face it-with the thickness and length of my hair, I have to use half of a bottle in one shampooing!) Recently I found and fell in love with Simply U Shampoo and Conditioner at Walmart (of all places!). It has a great pump bottle and is only $3-4 dollars/each and sulfate and paraben free! It's my new every day ritual (but I still reserve my beloved Pureology for special occassions!)

I've fallen in love with collecting jars and bottles since starting Olivia Charles Antiques and although this cool, blue bottle is not old, it is reminiscent of my favorite blue "Bell" jars and has become a favorite. I bought it at Home Goods for about $6. I've been keeping citrus water in it and there is something that makes me happy about the simple everyday "luxury" of pulling out the pretty bottle and pouring a glass on a hot summer day. It will make a great flower vase, too.

At Home in Homewood has these amazing pottery vases right now in this taupe color, mustard yellow and ice blue (I spent way too much time deciding between the mustard and taupe!!). There are all different shapes and sizes and some that almost look ruffled. I was shocked when the vase I bought was only $9!! And Publix has these really pretty mixed Sunflower bouquets for $9.99 right now that are so happy. It's not every day that I see a mixed bouquet that I actually like, so I was pretty excited about this one. The next time I'm in Homewood I'm going to go and buy a few vases to keep on hand for hostess gifts, birthdays, etc. I can always pick flowers up at the grocery store when I'm shopping, but running to Homewood is not always in the cards for me, and it will be nice to have a quick, but thoughtful gift in a time pinch.

Last night we attended the pre-opening dinner at Frio en La Paz (Chill in La Paz) at the Vestavia City Center (in the old Nonna Rose space). Cannon and his partners are very excited about their modern take on the classic family favorite and the food was delicious. We had a great time seeing friends and tasting all the yummies. I ordered the summer squash burrito and it was DIVINE. I am truly a meat-eating girl, so this was a departure from the normal for me, but I was surprised at how filling and delicious it was. It had yummy goat cheese inside and a house-made sauce drizzled on top. The official opening of Frio is tomorrow (Monday, May 23rd) so stop by this week and check it out. You won't be disappointed!!

When we walked in last night from having a fun night with friends at Frio, it hit us like a ton of bricks again stepping into the house. The immediate guilt of smiling and laughing that night, the longing for Olivia to be in her crib sound asleep, the realization that our life is not normal, even though we were able to go out and be normal for a few hours. As I was getting into bed I read this passage from "Whispered Words of Encouragement:"

King David quoted Jesus as saying: "I know the Lord is always with me. He is helping me. God's mighty power supports me. No wonder my heart is filled with joy and my tongue shouts His praises! For I know all will be well with me in death." Acts 2:25-26 (TLB)

I take solace today in knowing that all is well with Olivia in heaven and it is only us, the ones left here on earth, that are suffering and mourning her presence here with us and look forward to the day when "all will be well" with us, too.

Wednesday, May 18

:: Delivery Day ::

As I type, Cannon is unloading another order of Olivia Charles Reclaimed Outdoor Furniture!!! We are so excited to be selling at Pepper Place Market this Saturday. We almost sold out at the Mt Laurel Festival this Spring, so we're hoping to do even better this summer. We will be there this Saturday, May 14th and next Saturday, May 21st from 7 a.m.-12 noon.

CC and I have been busy working on a burlap banner for our Olivia Charles tent this week, so look for this in the "garden" parking lot if you're coming to the market. We'd love to see you and show you all of our stuff. We've added chaise lounge adirondacks, smaller adirondack chairs and children's adirondacks in addition to our great benches, planters, bird houses, etc at great prices that all benefit the Olivia Charles Foundation. We'll also be taking orders for custom pieces if you don't see the item in the color of your liking.

As a side note...grommets and I do not get along. While trying to attach a grommet to the corner of this lovely banner yesterday I smashed my pointer finger with a hammer and now have a beautiful blood blister to show for it. Luckily CC has better aim and conquered that grommet, otherwise we might not have a banner.

The Pepper Place Market is located at:
2829 2nd Avenue South
Birmingham, Alabama 35233

14 She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.
Proverbs 31:14-18

Tuesday, May 17

:: Walking Around In The Fire ::

Cannie scored big points with my pretty lady mermaid vase! He owes our friend Jeff big for telling him to check my blog before mother's day!

The beautiful flowers next to her are from my Auburn Chi O and KD friends. Thank you ladies, for loving on me in this way. It is such a nice reminder with each gorgeous delivery that you are remembering and loving Olivia right along with me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

He's down, but he's certainly not out! Even with a wounded foot, our Peeshie Baby worked hard helping us load the trailer for the Pepper Place Market on Saturday. Take a look at that smirk! He saw me posting this picture and said, "Mommy, I can't believe I lifted that heavy thing!"

Thanks to all of you who stopped by our tent. I hope you love your purchases! We did great sales-wise and are looking forward to another fun market day this Saturday. Stop by and see us if you didn't get a chance this weekend. We'll be getting in more inventory this week...bird houses, planters, footstools for the adirondack chairs, etc.

Last night as I was doing my nightly devotion, I read these words regarding Daniel 3:25 - Walking around in the fire:

"When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown into the furnace, the fire did not stop them from moving, for they were seen "walking around." Actually, the fire was one of the streets they traveled to their destination. The comfort we have from Christ's revealed truth is not that it teaches us freedom from sorrow but that it teaches us freedom through sorrow. O dear God, when darkness overshadows me, teach me that I am merely traveling through a tunnel. It will then be enough for me to know that someday it will be all right."

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were unbound and unharmed as they were walking around in the furnace, even though they had been bound as they were thrown in and the fire was so hot that it killed their guards. That is amazing stuff, but what truely amazes me the most in this biblical story is what they said to King Nebuchadnezzar as he threatened to kill them if they didn't bow down to his golden idol. They said, "17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us[a] from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

They were willing to suffer an excruciating death and were okay with letting God be in control of their destinies, even if that meant that He didn't intervene. This strikes home with me for obvious reasons because in our circumstance, He chose not to intervene. That is a hard pill to swallow, but the miracle is that somewhere in the midst of loosing Olivia, maybe even because of Olivia, I have learned to trust Him with my circumstances more than I ever thought possible. You see, I have learned that there is nothing that can happen to us that God can't handle. I've also learned that the more I proclaim His faithfulness to me, the more "under attack" I feel we are. But I am learning to trust and rest in Him more day-by-day with my circumstances and am amazed at how far I've come. I have a peace that defies all human logic. I KNOW where Olivia is and that we will be with her one day. THAT is the freedom my devotional book was talking about. Nothing in this life can compare.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

Thursday, May 12

:: Blue Birds ::

Just got home from Cannon's office. Went to view the items that arrived and had to post a picture of the new chaise lounges and children's chairs. They're too cute. I love the new peacock blue color, too!

While we were in Mt Laurel we spotted CC's golf cart at Jimbo's and drove over to say hello. She told us she has baby blue birds in her blue bird box, so of course we got out the ladder to take a peak and they are soooo adorable. We're trying to think of a spot in our yard to erect a blue bird box of our own. Trouble is keeping it away from trees and fences were "predators" can get them. Still thinking on that, but wanted to share the pictures. (Please forgive the horrible cell phone quality)

Aren't they adorable? The ultimate, "awwwww..."
And CC and Parrish pouring live worms into the feeder? The ultimate, "ewwww...." Of course Parrish loved it!

Tuesday, May 10

:: Walk Like A Man ::

As Parrish would say, "Ta da!" Today he got his walking cast (although you wouldn't know it based on the color-it's blue again-apparently that is still his favorite color). The other option was black...I managed to dodge that bullet but was unsuccessful in convincing him that the yellow cast was the way to go. We hope this is the last one. We were routing for a boot sans cast, but maybe this is a blessing in disguise. At least we don't have to worry about him re-injuring his foot! Our favorite tech Daniel said he had never seen anyone walk on their own as well as he did their first try. I'd expect nothing less from my little guy (those who know him personally can attest!) He has a cute little "shoe" that fits over his cast with a rubber sole and at the rate he's going he'll be sprinting down the street by tomorrow! He's already asked me several times if he can run, jump and climb. Keeping him in low gear for the next few weeks is going to be a full time job!! Thank you for your prayers and notes checking in with us today. We go back to the doctor in 2 weeks (May 25th) for another x-ray to see where we go from here. We're hoping it's into a boot in time for the first weekend of summer! I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, May 8

:: The Sweet Olivia Day Gown ::

One of my friends from high school, Sommer Shelfer Blackburn, has started her own children's clothing line (based in Houston) and has named a baby day gown in her collection "Sweet Olivia" in honor of our baby girl. She is donating 10% of her profit from the sale of this gown to the Olivia Charles Foundation, so she is not only remembering her in this special way, but assisting us in helping others in Olivia's name. Thank you, Sommer! The day gown is beautiful...fitting it was named for a gorgeous baby girl!

Sommer's website launches Monday at 8 a.m., so visit Beanies to see the page devoted to Olivia and to order a "Sweet Olivia" gown for your next baby shower gift. They are so precious with the added monogram on the collar and I'm excited there is a long-sleeve version in the works for fall. This is definitely going to be my go-to shower gift from here on out!

Today I am so proud to be Parrish & Olivia's Mommy. As I've said before, I could not get through this without my little man. Mother's Day has been equal parts happiness (who wouldn't be happy with breakfast in bed and 2 cups of coffee?) and sadness, but his smile can brighten even my saddest moments and I'm so thankful he is mine.

Please keep him in your prayers this Tuesday. Parrish will be having his second cast removed for x-rays. Depending on the amount of healing they show he will either be put in a walking cast or straight into a boot with no cast (we're obviously rooting for the latter). The Lord has sustained us through these last 6 weeks and blessed us with a determined and independent little boy who hasn't let the cast stop him (as evidenced by the state of his cast...see below...needless to say, we will be glad to get rid of this thing!!)

I hope you've all had a very Happy Mother's Day!

Tuesday, May 3

:: Crafting Craziness ::

To say I have been a crazy crafter the last few days is an understatement. Crazy being the key word. I asked Cannon the other day if he thought all "creative" people were as OCD as I am about their projects until they are finished. He said, "Probably so." I thought, "Good answer." :) In all seriousness though, crafting, blogging and creating really DO keep me focused and productive at a time when quietness brings me back to the thoughts of our tremendous loss.

So, with full awareness that I go about my projects like a mad-woman with the finished product in my cross-hairs, here are a few pictures of the things I've been working on this week.

I love receiving a gift that has been made by hand for the planning, time and energy I know went into making it, so I got excited when I found this apron tutorial online from my friend and fellow Chi O sister Darby's blog. (Hootie! Hoot!) I really wanted to make our moms' something for mother's day and this was just the thing.

You too can make these super cute and super fun apron's for your mom by visiting Darby's tutorial here: I gave CC a similar apron a few years ago and she is always talking about how much she loves it and how easy it makes finding her cell phone with the pockets. So, I decided I'd add a pocket to the front and see how it turned out. Sure enough, the hallowed i-phone fit nicely and the pocket is pretty cute, too! I used the pattern for the pockets found on this blog:

And if any of you are looking to find a good deal on some cute fabrics for these go to Hancock. Their duck (is that how you spell it?) fabrics are all 50% off right now and their stain resistance and thicker feel are perfect (not to mention the most important part...they have fabulous prints with coordinating solids!) By the time all was said and done, I ended up spending about $6 on each apron, but they don't look like it (except for that misaligned seam-sorry Glorio)!

So after my aprons were finished but my creative streak wasn't anywhere close, I got back into some blog-reading mania and stumbled across (yep, you guessed it)-ANOTHER tutorial on making a family "command center." Most of you in the 'burbs like me probably have sides of your cabinets that look somewhat like these:

The plain white sides had always bothered me-like a blank canvas staring me in the face. So several years ago I decided I'd get a roll of cork and cut some foam board to cover my cabinet sides and turn it into something useful-a message board. So for the last 3 years or so we have been putting that baby to good use.

Ok, maybe BAD use as over the years this board acquired WAY too many pictures and I couldn't BEAR to edit them. It was as if I had to choose one of my family members or friends over the other and I couldn't bring myself to do it. So when I stumbled across this blog post (from a guest I saw on the Nate Berkus show a while back) about a STUNNING message board, a light went on in my head for a way to make a good thing even better.

It was especially emotional taking down and studying each the pictures of Olivia and our fun family times together, but I forced myself to widdle it down to my favorite few (with the intention of changing them out often).

I was coveting the mesh wall-hanging basket from Ballard featured on isabellaandmax, but really didn't want to pay that much. As luck would have it, I stumbled across this similar metal basket while at Office Depot for only $16.99! I love that it has a section for mail, file folders and even pens and paperclips! And in this way, it may be even better (functionally and pocketbook-speaking) than the Ballard version and it's almost as cute!

Another deal I got was on the fabric from Hancock for only $6/yard!! I couldn't believe it. In the effort to "keep it real" here, I will tell you that I first eyed some yellow and white chevron fabric that was $18.99 a yard and really, really, really wanted it, but was proud of myself for resisting and going with the cheaper version (after all, I never really know how these projects of mine are going to turn out!)

I do want to say here that I am often convicted of my want of worldly goods and that these things are not important in the big picture, but the creation of them does keep my focus during these difficult days without Olivia. For that and for the love and caring acts of my mothers, grandmothers and girlfriends, I am so grateful. I hope you all enjoy a much-deserved, Happy Mother's Day this Sunday!!!

Who can find a virtuous woman? She is far more precious than jewels...

Strength and honor are her clothing, and she can laugh at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and loving instruction is on her tongue.
She watches over the activities of her household and is never idle.
Her sons rise up and call her blessed.
Her husband also praises her:
Many women are capable, but you surpass them all!
Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord will be praised.
~Proverbs 31:10, 25-30

P.S. Is it really bad that I am posting this picture of the gift I want for Mother's Day? Maybe you shouldn't answer that. Cannon will laugh at me and say I'm insufferable, but I am hoping he reads this latest blog post before Sunday so he can get this baby on order from At West End (a new catalog Tappy started receiving and shared with me). I want this mermaid to live on my kitchen counter with cooking utensils And it will double as a flower vase. So that's two for the price of one, right?! Cannon also says he doesn't know why I couldn't sell things for a living because I'm always trying to "sell" him on something we need for the house! :) What's that I was saying about being convicted about my wanting for things of this world?! Sigh...