Tuesday, March 27

:: A Giveaway! ::

To celebrate the launch of our new website {www.oliviacharlesantiques.com} we are hosting a giveaway! Simply visit our new site and submit your email address under the "email signup" tab to enter for a chance to win a FREE (includes shipping) small reclaimed bench. The bench being given away is pictured above. Approximate bench measurements are 24"w x 12"d x 18" h.

We promise never to sell your private information or bombard your inbox! We will, however, email ocasionally to tell you about our giveaways, sales, and special events.

The winner will be chosen at random and announced next Tuesday, April 3rd.

Good luck!
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Friday, March 23

:: The Big Apple ::

Last weekend we headed to New York City with Karl and Nancy for our annual St. Patty's Day weekend vacation. The tradition started 3 or 4 years ago when I was writing for Southern Beauty Magazine. SB hosted it's launch party at Justin Timberlake's Southern Hospitality Restaurant in NYC over St. Patty's Day weekend and we invited the Browns to join us there. Unfortunately, the magazine didn't make it…but our annual long weekend trips thankfully did.

Thursday Cannon and I took the PATH train to Hoboken to visit Carlo's Bake Shop of TLC Cake Boss fame. We had to laugh at ourselves for making all that effort for baked goods and a look at the place we've watched on TV…the line stretched across the block! But we persevered and got our pastries (the lobster tail and chocolate canolis were divine) and a t-shirt for Parrish, who watches the show with us. When we gave him the shirt and told him we visited the bakery he was shocked and said…"You mean there is really a cake boss bakery?" I guess to him it's hard to distinguish between reality TV and fiction so all this time he's thought they were just characters (and characters they are!).

I had to snap a photo of this over-the-top baby shower cake. It's beautiful though, isn't it?

The yummy pastries that were worth the wait.

Friday we visited the 9/11 Memorial site. Walking up to the two pools at the sites where the towers used to stand made my heart feel tight and brought tears to my eyes. I wasn't expecting to have such a reaction, but I guess it makes sense. All I could think about as I read the names inscribed in the bronze around the pools was all of the devastated families and how even though time has passed, they are still devastated.

"The survivor tree" is a pear tree that was originally planted on the WTC plaza in the 70's. After the attack it was reduced to an 8 foot tall stump. The tree was nursed back to health and stood in NYC Park, growing to 30 feet tall, but in March 2010 the tree was damaged again by severe storms. Despite these struggles the survivor tree did just that - survived - and now stands in it's original home at the 9/11 memorial site.

It was a reminder to Cannon and I as we stood there that we can survive. But I don't want to just survive. I want to thrive. In my head I kept thinking of this verse - "In this world you will have many troubles. But take heart. I have overcome the world."

We ate dinner at Mario Batali's Babbo and it was delicious. We had spicy black spaghetti with rock shrimp and beef cheek ravioli and all sorts of things we would never cook ourselves but were fun to try. The picture above is at Sparks Steakhouse on our last night. We also saw Rock of Ages on Broadway. It was more R rated than I expected it to be, but pretty hilarious and filled with songs like "every rose has it's thorn" and other favorites you'll remember from middle school mixers.

This week is Spring Break for Parrish so since our return from NYC we've just been enjoying being at home. We've hit the McWane Center and had our nephew Quinn spend the night. Today we are planning to have a lazy, rainy morning playing board games before we go to iJump. If it stops raining I'm going to go buy some native plants to plant in our front yard. Our neighborhood requires that only native things be planted in the front yards so I'm thinking of getting some color with native azaleas and caroline jasmine. Do any of you have any other native plants you would suggest I try? I'm new to native gardening so this is going to be a learning experience and I can use all the tips I can get. Parrish says he wants to plant a tomato and rattle snake bean garden in the side yard so we might be trying that out as well. Wish us luck and happy spring break! Check back soon for an update on our Olivia Charles Antiques website. After months of hard work, I think it will finally be live soon and we plan to do a fun give away to celebrate the launch.
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Monday, March 12

:: Eggstrordinary Easter Tree ::

I went to Spa Greystone the other day for a massage (thank you CC for my maternity massage gift certificate - one a month my entire pregnancy - such an awesome gift!) and they were decorated so beautifully for Easter. One of the things I loved most were the rustic Easter egg trees, so I decided to recreate one at home. This was a super easy project that look less than an hour.

You will need:
Dry floral foam (a small block)
Vase of your choice (I wrapped the vase with ribbon)
Sticks from the yard (I used 3 but you can use as many as looks good)
Plastic eggs (they must open)
super thin ribbon (cut into 12 small pieces)
spanish moss or reindeer moss (you could also use Easter grass)
scotch tape

Cut the foam to fit your vase. Tie ribbon around the vase. Insert sticks into foam in a pleasing pattern.

Next, create a loop with one of the small lengths of ribbon, open the egg and tape it to the inside so it will hold while you close the egg.

Hang each egg ornament from the branches in a random, evenly spaced pattern. Fill the vase around the floral foam with moss or easter grass.

Voila! A festive and rustic Easter tree.
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:: The Ring Bearer & A Recipe ::

My sweet cousin Sara Catherine was married this past weekend and asked Parrish to be her ring bearer. Many months full of his protesting led me to believe it might be disasterous. I pulled bribery out of my mommy bag of tricks and promised him a new power ranger if he complied and did so with a smile on his face. After a brief round of fussing at the rehearsal, I thought I may have to resort to sitting on the front pew dangling the power ranger into the aisle as bait.

But, alas…in true Parrish form, he was all bark and no bite and was the perfect little ring bearer. I wish I could have taken pictures during the ceremony with him holding his pillow. It was the sweetest thing.

The funniest comment of the day was that morning when we were getting him dressed in his tux with tails. He said, "I'm just going to cut these tails off!"

I told him I thought some of the older groomsmen probably had the same thought! :)

But the day and the bride and groom were beautiful. Happy Marriage, Sara C and Wilson!! May you have a lifetime of happiness filled with His joy!

My mother-in-law CC has been working on a Mt Laurel cookbook to sell and raise money for our town library. This has had me going back through my old recipes trying to decide what to submit. While doing this I stumbled across a recipe I haven't made in a while and decided to make tonight. It is courtesy of my friend Rushton who used to send out a weekly email with tried-and-true recipes. It is a easy, delicious weeknight meal, so I thought I would include it in the cookbook and pass it along to all of you:

Creamy Crockpot Chicken

Chicken Breasts (up to 8)

1 C. white wine

8 oz. Cream Cheese (can use lowfat if you want to)

1 Packet Good Season Italian Dressing mix (zesty) (with the salad dressings at the store)

1 Can cream of mushroom soup

Place chicken in bottom of crock pot. In the microwave, warm up cream cheese and soup. Mix well and add all other ingredients. Blend well & pour over the chicken. Cook 4-6 hours and serve over rice or noodles.

Tips: Use a rubber spatula to press the lumps of cream cheese against the side of the bowl when mixing. The sauce will smooth out as it cooks. You can substitute cream of chicken soup and add fresh mushrooms. The white wine can also be replaced with water. This freezes well, so cook more chicken than you need and freeze it in a zip-lock bag with leftover sauce for a quick meal another day.

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Sunday, March 4

:: It's a... ::


(I wrote this post the other night and never had a chance to post it, so here it is!)

We are thrilled that Parrish is going to have a baby brother and that our arms are going to be filled with a sweet, squirmy baby again in just 5 months! Judging by the amount Parrish is kissing my belly, I'd say he's pretty excited himself. The other day he gave my belly a big zerbert, then laughed and said, "It's a boy baby so he likes that." I think he already has visions of a partner in crime, teaching him the way of the world of boys.

Have I told you that you show extremely early with your 3rd child? I promise I have looked pregnant since week 10. Buttoning non-maternity pants has been a thing of the past for weeks on end. At 16 weeks I look like I did at 20 weeks with Olivia and 24 weeks with Parrish! Either I am carrying a giant baby boy (which could be possible since he's measured over a week ahead of schedule consistently at ultrasound appointments) or this happens earlier and earlier with each baby. My poor body...I'm certain it will never be the same.

Adding to that problem is all of the Easter candy I'm consuming. I've always got my eyes peeled for cute things for Parrish's Easter basket and I hit the jackpot at World Market the other day. They have the CUTEST stuff. Do you remember those decorative eggs made of sugar from back in the day? They not only have those, they have candy filled pin-wheels, they have plastic eggs with tiny volcanos inside that will erupt, they have a tiny book of hand tattoos that will transform those little fingers into all kinds of animals, they have ceramic egg and bunny kits that your kids can paint themselves, the list goes on and on. You've really got to check this stuff out if you're looking for some out-of-the-box items to go along with your more traditional chocolate bunnies and jelly beans.

We're off to t-ball practice tonight. This is Parrish's first year playing and I must admit, he is quite the good little player. Most importantly, he is loving it. I am just amazed at the sheer amount of gear that goes along with it. This is not soccer anymore where all you need is a pair of cleets and a ball! And just reading the practice and game schedule chart requires a college degree. Baseball is serious. And I better get used to it with another baby boy on the way!

:: Overwhelmed ::

Today I'm just feeling overwhelmed. I'm on information overload. All my wondering about the future weighing me down and consuming my thoughts. The worry and to-do list consuming me. If I'm honest, I'll admit I'm thinking..."but we've already been through enough trials to last a lifetime, Lord. We shouldn't have to go through anymore hard stuff. We've had enough-now everything else in our lives has got to be easy-breezy or we're just not going to be able to handle it. We deserve a smooth, straight path with no bumps-big or small."

Yep, that's what I'm thinking right about now. But you know what? That's not what's happening. An easy-peasy life with no more troubles is not what we are living. Enduring excruciating tragedy does not exempt us (as much as I would like it to) from experiencing other challenges in this life. Now somehow I have to summon the courage to meet them head on and with a good attitude, even through my veil of grief. That dull-ache of grief that makes even really happy things just a tad bit sad and really sad things that much sadder.

Now, I know all of you are going to be wondering if something has happened with the baby...and no, thankfully it has not. All doctor's reports to date point to a healthy baby growing inside my belly - and we are so very thankful. These difficulties stem from my trying to figure it all out. To dissect this path the Lord has my family on. To want to know the end of this story when we are just at the beginning.

I pulled out a book my mom gave me on our wedding day 8 years ago called, "God's promises for your every need." Under a page titled, "What to do when troubles hit your life" I found this verse...

Take therefore no thought for the morrow; for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. Matthew 6:34

I turned to the same verse in "The Message" translation and discovered I had underlined this passage in dark, deep lines...

...don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the times comes. Matthew 6:34

I think I'll be writing this verse on a notecard for my dashboard or refrigerator. It's one I need to constantly remind myself of to help keep the feelings of being overwhelmed at bay.