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It’s Graduation Thyme!

It is finally here, after 7 long years of dedicated studies I am finally graduating with my BSN degree! I must apologize for the lack of posting this semester, my mother’s mantra still rings in my head, “studies come first,” and so, blogging has taken a back seat. However, with graduation less than a week away I wanted to share with you a few images from my graduation celebration wishlist.

The following are ideas I’ve combined to make a Graduation Thyme Garden Party Celebration come to life. I hope these ideas spark your creativity as you prepare for your own graduation celebrations in the coming weeks.

Minted garden party invitations Garden Party Invitations via Minted

Herb Favor Bags Herb Favor Bags via Move Nourish Believe

Garden Party Tablescape The Tablescape via HeatherBullard.com

Brioche, Peaches, Thyme garden party treat Brioche, Peaches and Thyme via Bayaderka

Good Ideas for You summer garden party ideas Flowers and Paper Bags via Good Ideas For You

Onto Baby Vintage Couples Shower Juice Bar (but add champagne for a mimosa bar) via Onto Baby

Thyme garden party decor Drying Thyme via French Larkspur

Berry Tart Berry Tarts via Belonika

Diaper Burp Cloths DIY

It’s springtime here in Tennessee and I could not be more pleased!

Here are a few of my favorite things about Spring:
1.) Dew on the grass every morning
2.) Sunshine and blue skies
3.) Tiny flower buds sprouting up through the ground
4.) Planting my garden
5.) Grilling out

This spring, like many before, has already been filled with a plethora of baby showers (all boys). I always know spring is coming when the baby shower invitations begin to roll in. In the past 2 weeks I have had 4 baby showers to attend and I must say, this quickly exhausts my creative abilities and available time trying to come up with something cute and unique for each person.

diaper burp cloth; diy

This year I’ve decided to try out the famous redesigned diaper burp cloths. I always like this idea but up until a few weeks ago had never actually tried my hand at crafting these sweet gifts.

diaper burp cloth; diy

I purchased a couple packs of pre-folded cloth diapers from osocozy.com. They also have flat diapers if you prefer the shape. I found that the pre-folded diapers provide clean lines to measure & match to my printed fabric. Next I purchased a fairly inexpensive pack of three receiving blankets, also pre-folded.

diaper burp cloth; diy

The three sections made by the folds in the receiving blanket perfectly matched the width of the three sections on my diapers. This made it simple to cut three strips out of the receiving blankets and place one in the center strip of the diaper. Once in place, I folded under the edges of the receiving blanket and pinned in place.

diaper burp cloth; diy

Next I chose a fancy hem design from my sewing machine and sewed around the edges of the receiving blanket fabric, making sure half of the stitch was on the blanket and half off as I stitched around.

diaper burp cloth; diy

That’s it! If you cut all our strips first then place, fold and pin all together, then sew all together, you can whip up about 6 of these in less than 1 hour.

diaper burp cloth; diy

All in all I was very pleased with this project and look forward to trying more variations in the future.

diaper burp cloths, diy

Sailor Baby Shower

A couple weekends ago, I had the pleasure of helping out with baby shower decorations for my sweet friend Jane. Her and the hubster are expecting their first child in the next few weeks. My friend Kristin and I decided to broaden the trendy whale baby shower theme to a sailor baby shower. Instead of cutesy whales, we went with boyish flags in bold colors and homemade life preservers.

Sailor Shower; baby shower

Kristin found these awesome nautical signal flag patterns at PurlBee: Laura’s Loop. The ones on the site are napkins, ours were simply flags made out of felt squares. To assemble, we cut strips of felt and hot glued them onto larger blocks of felt, making a flag for each letter of the alphabet. The life preservers are from a picture Kristin found on Pinterest. Unfortunately there was not a usable link to share with you. To assemble we used 2 foam rings, cut them in half to make 4 rings and wrapped white and red streamers around them to make little life preservers. Linda from Aunt Willie’s Wildflowers brought the daffodils in blue vases to place in the center of the life preservers.

sailor shower; baby shower; paper boats

I found the adorable origami paper boats at I Love This and That. I used colored printer paper and cardstock instead of the vellum and cut my paper to 5×7.5in. I would recommend using paper no thicker than printer paper, the cardstock boats were a bit more difficult to fold once you get to the last steps.

The food selection consisted of a beautiful,colorful & tasty salad bar.

salad bar; baby shower; sailor theme

And, of course, what baby shower is complete without the mother-to-be and all her friends and family.

baby shower; sailor theme

5 Beautiful Blogs

Happy Friday! Today I’d like to take a moment to share with you five beautiful blogs & websites that I just can’t get enough of. These are my daily go to blogs for inspiration and an overall feeling of goodness. Check them out and be sure to spread a little love their way.

KinfolkMag: A photographic/journal-style blog that provides casual entertainment ideas. They put out a beautiful magazine that is available for purchase on the site and also have a Journal site as well as galleries of their various events.


My Ideal Home: A beautifully crafted tumblr page filled with awe-inspiring architecture, design, and decorating elements.


Sunday Suppers: Beautifully staged photographs and details of class-cooking-dining experiences, pairing friends and food. Classes are held in a waterfront loft in Brooklyn, NY and are taught by local Chefs. The food is market fresh, local and organic and the approach is to create seasonal and fresh meals together.


Treasures and Travels: Hosted by the two girls behind the online shop, Kalos which sells handmade jewelry and vintage clothing. They post about anything and everything they see, love, wear, etc.


Tiny White Daisies: Beautiful photography is king at this tumblr page. The photographs range from nature, to architecture, to everyday sightings. A must see sight for beautiful finds.


Happy browsing!

Fall Wedding Wildflower Bouquets

My dear friend Laura was married at the end of September. I offered to help out by arranging her wedding flowers, a task I was a little nervous about because, as we all know, flower options become a bit more limited the farther you get into the Fall season. However, Laura was incredibly easygoing about the flowers and pretty much gave me the criteria of “I just want something pretty.”

[![](jekyll_uploads/2012/11/Wildflower-Wedding-6-575x382.jpg "Wildflower Wedding (6)")](http://www.sweetpeonies.com/2012/11/fall-wedding-wildflower-bouquets/wildflower-wedding-6/) Photo by: SweetPeonies

The wedding was held at a little local church on a college campus, with a river running along one side–idyllic right? The reception was held just down the road at Meredith Valley Farms, this venue has some of the most beautiful views of the Tennessee hills I have ever seen. The weather was a bit stormy throughout the afternoon but you would have never known by looking at the joy on the bride and groom’s faces as well as the sheer happiness on the faces of all those in attendance.

[![](jekyll_uploads/2012/11/Wildflower-wedding-4-575x382.jpg "Wildflower wedding (4)")](http://www.sweetpeonies.com/2012/11/fall-wedding-wildflower-bouquets/wildflower-wedding-4/) Photo by: SweetPeonies

Because of the simple and natural elements involved in this wedding, we decided to make the bouquets and arrangements very natural and free–everything you might think of when it comes to wildflowers. All of the flowers came from Linda’s farm, Aunt Willies Wildflowers.

[![](jekyll_uploads/2012/11/Wildflower-wedding-3.jpg "Wildflower wedding (3)")](http://www.sweetpeonies.com/2012/11/fall-wedding-wildflower-bouquets/wildflower-wedding-3/) Photo by: SweetPeonies

Hannah Bader, a friend of mine and local photographer, served as their wedding photographer and snapped a couple of photos for me at the service. Hannah’s photography includes weddings, portraits, and events. She approaches her photography from a photo-journalistic/environmental portraiture approach. The following are just a few of the photos she took downstairs as I was finishing some final bouquet details (more photos to come).

[![](jekyll_uploads/2012/11/Wildflower-Wedding-575x359.jpg "Wildflower Wedding")](http://www.sweetpeonies.com/2012/11/fall-wedding-wildflower-bouquets/wildflower-wedding/) Photo by: Hannah Bader

If you live in East Tennessee and are looking for a great photographer, be sure to check out Hannah’s portfolio on facebook (under Hannah Bader), or contact her by phone at (423)-342-0255 or by email at bader.hannah@gmail.com.

[![](jekyll_uploads/2012/11/IMG_6501edit-575x383.jpg "Wildflower Wedding")](http://www.sweetpeonies.com/2012/11/fall-wedding-wildflower-bouquets/img_6501edit/) Photo by: Hannah Bader

See corsages from this wedding at Farmstyle Wedding Corsage.

Here are a few more photos from Hannah.

[![](jekyll_uploads/2012/11/Wildflower-Wedding-Hannah-Bader-2-575x383.jpg "Wildflower Wedding Hannah Bader (2)")](http://www.sweetpeonies.com/2012/11/fall-wedding-wildflower-bouquets/wildflower-wedding-hannah-bader-2/) Photo by: Hannah Bader
[![](jekyll_uploads/2012/11/Wildflower-Wedding-Hannah-Bader-3-575x862.jpg "Wildflower Wedding Hannah Bader (3)")](http://www.sweetpeonies.com/2012/11/fall-wedding-wildflower-bouquets/wildflower-wedding-hannah-bader-3/) Photo by: Hannah Bader
[![](jekyll_uploads/2012/11/Wildflower-Wedding-Hannah-Bader-1-575x383.jpg "Wildflower Wedding Hannah Bader (1)")](http://www.sweetpeonies.com/2012/11/fall-wedding-wildflower-bouquets/wildflower-wedding-hannah-bader-1/) Photo by: Hannah Bader

Farmstyle Wedding Corsage

During my two week hiatus from posting, Jack and I have been very busy baking 300 cookies, arranging wedding flowers, attending baby showers, and attempting to stay afloat with school and work. Yesterday my friend Laura was married at Meredith Valley Farms. This farm is seriously so so beautiful. They have small cabins you can rent down on the river and a beautiful large cabin up on the hill for wedding guests to rent during the event weekend. And of course, the views are stunning.

rustic wildflower corsage

I arranged the flowers for Laura’s wedding. You would think there would not be many flowers to work with for an end of September wedding but even I was pleasantly surprised at the variety of colors still available on the farm. Laura wanted a very “wildflower” look to her arrangements and I think we accomplished just that. I will be posting more pictures of the bouquets soon but for now I thought I would share one of the 22 boutonnieres and corsages that I made for the event.

rustic wildflower corsage

This corsage was for the mothers of the bride and groom. Included in the corsage is a small dahlia, purple sage, goldenrod, dusty miller, sedum and a little weed. I tied all the corsages, bouts, and bouquets with yellow raffia to continue the rustic wildflower theme.

rustic wildflower corsage

Jungle Safari Baby Shower

Last weekend’s jungle party was a success! I took way too many pictures so these collages are my attempt to show you all the details. To be completely honest, the jungle theme was pretty easy to pull off–think grasses, lots of them. That’s right, I used vases and vases of grasses and hosta leaves to bring the jungle indoors.

jungle baby shower decorations

For the table, I bought three yards of animal-print fabric and used a strip of burlap to break up the pattern down the middle of the table. I used green glass dishes to continue our nature theme and bring color to the table. I also cut grasses with branching brown ends on top to add a bit of nature and height to the table.

jungle baby shower decorations

The next step to creating this jungle safari table was to make brown tissue paper poms. There are many tutorials for making these poms and I promise they are all very simple. For tutorials however, I usually revert to my good friend, Martha Stewart (cause she’s awesome).

jungle baby  shower decorations tissue poms

To help give the table dimension and to label the food, I made little sachets with fabric squares, wooden skewers and circle tags (tutorial coming soon). I have never liked my handwriting so I used a fancy stencil to write out the food labels.

jungle shower decor

jungle baby  shower decorations food labels

I also set up a little card station at the party. We pre-purchased a set of thank-you cards and a book of stamps for the parents-to-be. Then I set up the card station for guests to write their name and address on envelopes so the parents-to-be wouldn’t have to find everyone’s addresses on their own. The station had a giraffe-print fabric square, grasses, a basket for the written-on envelopes, and of course the thank-you cards and pens.

jungle baby  shower decorations card station

I drew 2ft. jungle animals on black card stock and taped them in various areas around the house. I am hoping to make you all some printable stencils for my jungle animals so keep checking back. I also printed out cautionary signs: “Elephant XING”/”Do Not Feed the Animals”/”Trespassers Will Be Eaten”

jungle baby  shower decorations jungle animals

In the gift area I switched from brown animal print fabric squares to black and white. If you can find animal print fabric for cheap just buy it in yards and cut it into squares. I could not find any inexpensive animal print fabrics so I opted for the $.99 fabric squares from Walmart (they have bunches of prints available). Notice in the picture my hanging paper jungle mobiles, none of the pictures of those were that great but I had them hung around the gift opening area and in the sunroom.

jungle baby  shower decorations zebra print

Another station was set up for the guests to leave an encouraging message for the parents to be. I used leaf and flower-print card stock, a hole punch, and twine to make little hanging notes. I also brought some of my potted plants from home for the table greenery. Behind this station, I lined small clear bottles filled with grasses to create a grass wall separating the front room from the kitchen.

jungle baby shower decorations notes

My last jungle station held the party favors. My hubby makes himself loads and loads of yummy granola for snacks so I convinced him to make me a very large batch for the party. Then I scooped out one cup of granola for each ziplock bag, wrapped the bag in burlap squares and tied them off with twine.

jungle baby shower decorations party favor granola treats

This was such a fun party to plan and I think a fun time was had by all the guests and most importantly the parents-to-be. I hope these pictures serve as inspiration for your next party. I’ll try to post a few tutorials for the miscellaneous jungle decorations very soon.

Gift Wrap: Baby Shower Basket

This past weekend we held a jungle baby shower out on the farm (pictures coming soon). For my gift, I decided to go with necessities as opposed to adorable baby clothes–always a tough decision.


I thought I would play on the “shower” aspect and compile shower supplies for the mommy and daddy to test out.


Included items: washcloths, shampoo, body wash, baby powder, drying mats & burp cloth, washable wipes to go and, of course, little shower animals just because they were so cute.

My hope was to have a little paper umbrella sticking out of the box. Sadly, the umbrella didn’t quite survive all the way to the farm, but a fun idea for those of you better at paper-umbrella making than I am.

Jungle Paper Mobile

Recently I’ve been working on a few decorations for a friend’s baby shower in July. Their nursery is going to have jungle decor so we decided to extend the theme to the shower as well.

paper jungle mobile baby shower

I found a beautiful animal print fabric for a table runner ($5/yd) and decided to contrast the muted browns with bright jungle colors.

Here are a few simple steps to making your own mobile:

1.) Cut cardstock into 1X8-inch strips. I used seven shades of brown, green, yellow and gray.

2.) Next, line the colors up in gradient order and decide on your mobile length. I ended up using 28 strips of paper for each mobile.

3.) After deciding pattern and length, stack the strips in order and head to your sewing machine. Place a piece of tape on the machine as a guide to help you sew straight down the middle of each strip of paper.

4.) Sew. Simply push each piece of paper under the needle, continue stitching until you have achieved the desired distance between strips and then place the next strip under the needle. Be sure to leave excess string on each end of your mobile for hanging.

5.) If you are using a light-weight paper, such as vellum you may want to weigh down the end of your string after hanging to avoid curling at the bottom of the mobile. Project Wedding makes this mobile with vellum and attaches a fishing weight at the bottom to weigh it down. The card stock however, is heavy enough that this curling does not occur (hence my choosing cardstock). The cardstock is also a cheaper purchase than vellum.

Project wedding vellum mobile: $25
Sweet Peonies cardstock mobile: $10 (even less if you already have various pieces of cardstock on hand like me)

I love how the mobiles turned out. I have made 5 so far and will hang them above the food table at the baby shower. I am also tying in the jungle greens by placing tall ornamental grasses on the table and surrounding areas which should complement the green mobiles nicely. I hope you’ve enjoyed this little sneak peek at the jungle baby shower. I’ll be sure to post pictures of the finished event. You can see finished photos of the baby shower here.

Scotch Tasting Party

One of our good friends had his quarter century birthday this past week. To celebrate, his wife (Kristin) threw a small Scotch tasting party. Her decorations were so clever I had to snap a few photos to share with you.

scotch tasting party

Kristin set up five tasting stations, one for each region of Scotland–Campbeltown, Highlands, Lowlands, Speyside & Islay. Each station had a different tartan plaid, grassy arrangement, picture of the area in Scotland from which that scotch hailed, and a framed sheet outlining the various characteristics of the scotch we were to taste.

She also researched which foods paired well with each scotch and set those out at the appropriate stations (sushi, eggplant hummus, sushi, bread, olives, cheese, apples with cinnamon and honey, and chocolate-covered espresso beans).

A cute little make-your-own drinks station was set up in the kitchen, complete with grenadine flavors, Pellegrino and fruit. Yumm!

scotch tasting party

Since I have a bit of a sweet tooth, my favorite part of the evening was the “You Make Me Want to Stout” cupcakes. Absolutely incredible award-winning cupcake recipe. It used three different types of beer, one for the cake, one for the filling and one for the frosting–seriously, how can you go wrong?

This was a very enjoyable birthday celebration and so fitting for someone turning 25. I hope Kristin’s genius party planning serves as inspiration when gearing up for your next event.

Memorial Day + Decorative Paper Flags

Hello friends! I hope you are all out enjoying your holiday weekend. This weekend the hubby and I decided to throw a last-minute Memorial Day BBQ for a few friends. I didn’t have much time to prep but I thought I should still throw together a few decorations for the event.

paper flag sticks Memorial Day

These fun paper flags are great for either adding color to your table or labeling your food (just stick straight into your dish). If you are baking a Memorial Day cake, consider frosting the outside with white icing and adding the red and blue flag sticks on top in varying heights.

You can also add ribbon to your skewers or dip the edges of the paper into glue and coat in glitter. The possibilities are endless.

The simple version pictured above uses two pieces of 8-1/2 x 11 inch paper. Cut 1-inch strips across the narrow side of your paper. Then fold in half and cut to a point at the end. Last step–use double-sided tape to attach the paper flags to the skewers (just wrap it around the stick). That’s all it takes for these easy-peasy paper flags.

Hope you all have a very relaxing Memorial Day!

Setting the Scene

I’ve realized over the past year that I am much better at capturing the small details of our farm workshops than I am at photographing the people involved. Perhaps it’s because the objects don’t move, or maybe it has to do with their vivid colors. Either way, I thought I would share a few of my favorite photos from last week’s cooking lesson and moss workshop.

These photos capture unique aspects of the atmosphere we try to create out at Aunt Willie’s Wildflowers–quaint, old-fashioned, peaceful–although nature has already done most of the work for us. Whatever words these might bring to mind, I hope they make you take pause and think about the little details in your own life that you may be overlooking every day.

When planning a dinner party, birthday, or wedding, don’t forget the impact little details have on the event and on the way you remember it years later.

Be sure to check back with us soon for an incredible guest post from my friend, Kira, of Kira Noble Photography, on how to best photograph the little details.

Christmas Party + A Few Tips

What holiday homecoming is complete without dressing up at least once for a Christmas party? Many individuals are put off by throwing their own party because, let’s face it, organizing an event on top of work and family can at times seem daunting. As soon as Jack and I knew we would be flying home for Christmas this year, I begged my mom to let me throw a little shindig at their house. These are a few of the set-up pictures.

When planning a holiday get-together, be sure to choose quick, easy and inexpensive treats that can feed a large group. In keeping with this rule, I decided to make bruschetta. This dish requires tomatoes, cucumber, onion, and feta–all fairly inexpensive and best of all, a little goes a long way. Jack even made baguettes to go along with the bruschetta and save a little money. My parents also decided to buy one HoneyBaked Ham to avoid the hassle of baking all day, and lots of wine.

Another way to lower the stress and remain in budget is to simply ask your friends and family to bring something to share. Many people think they are required to provide everything for the party but most guests are more than happy to contribute and don’t even need to be asked. Remember, it is OK to let go of some of the party-planning responsibility…a tip I find myself repeating often.

Simple is better. Cheese, crackers, wine–even three themed ingredients can make a successful party. We had a wine and cheese bar at the party. My aunt and uncle contributed an out-of this-world homemade tomato jam (recipe to come), that we paired with crackers and various cheeses. I filled up on this combination alone.
A few of the contributed foods included: pumpkin dip and gingersnaps (courtesy of my sister), meatballs (mother-in-law), more cheese and cracker plates (you can never have too many), ham, pickle, and cream cheese rolls (sister-in-law), and more wine.

For the non-wine drinkers, we also created a fun little space for a hot chocolate bar. I emptied cocoa and marshmallows into tins from home depot, and filled a teapot with hot water right before the guests arrived. I also filled clear containers with cinnamon sticks for stirring, and pirouettes to pair with their drinks. We set out the mugs ahead of time for easy access and also decorated the cocoa bar with various desserts, Costco truffles on shiny flower cut outs and blackberry pie.

To decorate, we simply used ornaments and candles to add ambiance and sparkle to the decor. Once again, simple and inexpensive is the key to throwing your own party. This should be an enjoyable process, not one that will cause stress. Decide ahead of time your budget, time requirements, and how many people you are willing to host. If you aren’t sure, start small and in time, throwing a party will be as easy as 1-2-3.

Remember it’s not about the party, it’s about the people–Coming together with those you love. I hope you’ve enjoyed the pictures from our little holiday party and I hope your holiday gatherings were as joyful and refreshing as ours was. Happy New Year!

Spiced Orange Chai Concentrate

Merry Christmas from the West Coast! Jack and I arrived safely this weekend and have been keeping ourselves busy visiting the family and soaking in the fresh smell of Oregon air.

[![](jekyll_uploads/2011/12/chaispicetea-325x487.jpg "chaispicetea")](http://www.sweetpeonies.com/2011/12/spiced-orange-chai-concentrate/chaispicetea/) Photo Courtesy of: Foodie With Family

While preparing for all the Christmas get-togethers, I realized I previously promised you all a recipe for Spiced Orange Chai Concentrate. I think I may have even teased you with a comment about how wonderful it tastes but never actually gave you the recipe–so rude. Anyways, this recipe is great for your Christmas get-togethers and as a bonus, it makes your house smell delicious enough to eat.

Orange Chai Concentrate Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: 30 minutes Total Time: 35 minutes Ingredients * 10 Bags Black Tea * 1 Packet Mulling Spices * 1 tsp Cinnamon * 1/2 Orange * 1/2 c. Brown Sugar * 1 Tbsp Honey * 1 Tbsp Vanilla extract Directions 1. Pour 4-1/2 cups of water into a pot and bring to a boil. Make sure to use a pot with a tight-fitting lid. Add the tea bags, mulling spices, cinnamon and orange slices to the pot. Once the mixture is boiling, turn off the stove, apply the lid and allow the concentrate to steep for 20 minutes. 2. Once the 20 minutes is over, pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer (we used a reusable coffee filter to strain). Strain a second time if needed. 3. Pour concentrate back into the pot and stir in the brown sugar, vanilla and honey.

To enjoy your concentrate, simply mix equal parts milk to concentrate. You can serve this over ice or with warmed milk.

We made jars of this for Christmas gifts this year. This can be a really easy and cute idea. Simply fill a mason jar with concentrate, apply the thin plate of the lid, cover with a scrap of Christmas fabric, then screw the outer part of the lid over the fabric. Tada! Easy wrapping for orange chai Christmas gifts.

Here’s the link to the original Spiced Orange Chai Concentrate recipe. The main difference is they used individual spices instead of one mulling packet. I chose the packet simply because it’s cheaper. They also used a ginger root, which I’m sure tastes great but in case you don’t have one on hand, doing without tastes just as wonderful.

Happy steeping!

Christmas at the Farm

When I first started working out at Aunt Willie’s Wildflowers, I assumed that the end of summer meant the end of workshops and pretty arrangements, luckily, I was mistaken. As if the pumpkin workshop wasn’t cool enough, come December, Linda holds a Christmas centerpiece workshop. The Christmas centerpieces are always beautiful with a variety of styles.

The centerpiece above is my attempt this year. I really like the touches of gold throughout it. Since we are heading home in 2 days (yay!), I decided not to waste my centerpiece on our empty home and gifted it to one of my favorite professors. I know, what a suck-up.

These centerpieces are very simple to make, all you need is a tray, a block of oasis, and lots of greenery. We soaked the oasis in water, cut it to fit the trays (if necessary), and started assembling.

Here are a few of the basics to assembling an oasis centerpiece:

Choose one type of greenery for your first row, my first one was pine, insert ends into the oasis at an angle. You want to cut all your greenery (for all three rows) 8-10 inches long, and space 1-2 inches apart. Row #2 will be up 1-2 inches and will align with the spaces so you won’t have gaps.

Depending on how full your branches are, each row should use about 12 branches total (that’s 4 on each side and 2 on the ends if your centerpiece is the size of a whole block of oasis).

Pick a different greenery for your second layer, I used cedar, and start going around the oasis 1-2 inches up from the first row. Follow the same principles as the first. Pick a third greenery for your top row (this is the top of your sides, not the top of your oasis).

Once the sides are covered, choose a more decorative greenery to start covering the top of your oasis, angling the outer branch slightly upward. I used brown tipped cedar, try to use a more decorative type of branch because this layer will be more visible.

Use any other greenery/shrub/leaf to fill in the top and any holes you may have. I like to go back and place a few magnolia leaves in various places throughout the layers–the shine make the centerpiece look fancy and helps the textures stand out. This is also when I went back through and added bits of yellow.

Now it’s time to add other decorative elements to the top of your centerpiece–dried fruit slices, whole apples, hydrangea, nuts, pine cones, candles. You can use pins, mini-stakes, or hot glue to hold everything in place. I used holly branches, a few slices of dried limes, and Queen Anne’s Lace.

Remember to branch out and stretch your creative capacities. The decorating options with these centerpieces are limitless so take your time and enjoy showing off the final product to friends and family throughout the holiday season.

If you haven’t had a chance to join our site, please do so in the right hand column. Once we hit 50 people we will put everyone’s names into a drawing for a fun prize. Be sure to check out our facebook page as well. Merry Christmas!

7 Links Project

There’s a fun little project moving through the blogging community which asks individuals to weed through their posts and rank them. Rank my posts!?! After choosing the best post for each of the 7 categories, the individual then tags more talented bloggers to continue the thread of “7 Links.”

Although I have found these posts entertaining, I have secretly been hoping no one would tag me because the thought of weeding through all of my posts and only being able to choose 7 seems overwhelming to me. However, thanks to Meghan at Scratch-Made Wife, I am now officially a part of the 7 Links community. Don’t worry Meghan, I forgive you. Please be sure to head on over to Scratch-Made Wife and show her some love.

Without further ado, here are my 7…

MOST BEAUTIFUL POST: White Wedding Bridal Luncheon or to stay in the food realm…Mini Blueberry Pies

Along with the recipes at The Kitchen Curtains, I post a lot of pictures from working out at Aunt Willies Wildflowers. So, although this project mainly emphasizes food, I couldn’t resist including one of my all-time favorite bridal luncheon posts.

I also included the mini blueberry pies because I just LOVE the final two pictures I settled on for this one. They are by far my favorite food-related pictures so far.

**MOST POPULAR POST:** [Gyro Pizza](http://www.sweetpeonies.com/2011/05/gyro-pizza/) I couldn’t decide whether to go off of my stats or off of responses. Since I love this pizza SO much, I chose responses. I have had numerous individuals email me their praises for this recipe. It’s so simple but still so delicious.

MOST CONTROVERSIAL POST: Ramekin Baked Eggs I write about food, crafts, and flowers–to be honest there isn’t much controversy there. I decided, like most food-bloggers before me, to take a different spin. I chose these baked eggs as most controversial because I feel like everyone has some personal slant on the way they like their eggs, so trying something new could stir up some deeply-rooted convictions.

MOST HELPFUL POST: How to Hem Jeans This post was a no-brainer for me to choose. There are numerous ways to hem jeans and this one works. Really! I received many comments about how simple this hemming process was for the beginner seamstress.

**SURPRISINGLY SUCCESSFUL POST:** [Frosted Banana Bars](http://www.sweetpeonies.com/2011/06/banana-bar-recipe/) I think the mere fact that they tasted great was the surprise. I love all things sweet and adding the frosting was more of a personal preference than what I thought others would enjoy. However, the feedback on this recipe was fabulous.

[![](jekyll_uploads/2011/02/misc-2-325x243.jpg "Honey Ginger Shrimp")](http://www.sweetpeonies.com/2011/02/honey-ginger-shrimp-with-rice/misc-2-2/)

POST THAT DIDN”T GET THE ATTENTION IT DESERVED: Honey Ginger Shrimp with Rice Granted, there is not a whole lot to this post, but it was one of my very first on The Kitchen Curtains and I was SO proud of it and my pictures but unfortunately received very little (no) feedback. tear Ok, I’m over it. Really.

POST I’M MOST PROUD OF: Caribbean Shrimp Cups This was a very hard decision to make. I love all my posts and although I love seeing how much better they have become as we progress, I still love those first few that barely qualify as a real blog post. I also had a hard time because I feel as if the craft-related posts are some of the ones I am most proud of, like Rosette Tote and 15-Minute Dress. But in all matters food related, hands down the Caribbean Shrimp I most love. I love the idea, the photo, and the taste.

Now to pass along the 7 links love, if you have already been tagged I truly apologize.

Kira at Kira Noble Photography for her beautiful of everything from weddings to morning coffee.

DayDreamer Desserts because she makes delicious looking desserts like Blueberry Cheesecake Martinis.

Rachel at My Naturally Frugal Family, because she is all about health and happiness.

Michelle at That’s So Michelle, because she takes beautiful pictures of her food.

And finally, Runs With Spatulas, because I love the name and she posts nutrition information on all of her recipes.

Apples and Globe Graduation Party

Living far away from home has never been our ideal situation. Although Jack and I have our rough days being so far away from home, time and time again we have have found comfort in our friends. One of these dear friends, Kristin Waite, received her very first teaching position this week. In May, Kristin graduated with a master’s degree in teaching and threw a fabulous “Teacher-themed” graduation party. I asked Kristin a few weeks ago to write a post about her party and I figured, in honor of her new job, this week would be most fitting to share it with you.

So without further ado, I give you the fabulous Kristin Waite…

“This Apples and Globe theme would make a great party for a teacher in any phase of life: graduation, wedding, baby, new job, or retirement.

I planned this party to celebrate graduation with my friends and family that traveled to celebrate the occasion with me. Below are a few of the online places I found inspiration and what I finally settled on.

This pencil vase from Simply Staci became one of the most expensive non-edible features of the party. Buying that many pencils begins to add up, but the upside is that teachers always need more pencils!
Photo Courtesy of ohmigoshblog.

Bakerella the cake pop queen made these adorable apple cake pops. I wanted to use them to decorate the cake. I therefore used toothpicks to dip them in the red candy coating.

The cake recipe I found on Bakerella. It just seemed too decadent not to attempt. It is a beautiful cake, while not being unapproachable to those who eat it. I saw the recipe and as I was thinking about the party theme, realized this would make a great notebook paper design if the stripes were blue and not brown. This became the central goal of the party: successfully complete this cake. I substituted white chocolate instead of chocolate in the glaze and added blue food coloring.

Another idea I found was to use books as centerpieces. You can use them to raise the height of vases or candles on a table. I used them here to raise jars of cookies to different levels. This allowed them to mimic the serving plates on the other side that created a stair step on the opposite side. It would be incredible to have many older books that would make a perfect neutral centerpiece, but I don’t have those type of books. In their place I used my favorite history and education books that have gotten me through my education thus far.

One original idea was to decorate the cookie jars with composition notebook design. I used this website to create the labels that identified what type of cookies were on the cookie bar.

I used free maps that I had collected from rest stops over the years to decorate the walls and create map bunting. Never underestimate the free resources available in the brochure walls at rest stops. I know I never will.

I also borrowed globes from friends and checked a few out from the university library to decorate my home. Along with rest stop brochure walls, never underestimate the resources of area libraries.

I hope this encourages you to let your party ideas marinate for a while. It is the small inexpensive details that make the party.”

White Wedding Bridal Luncheon

This past Friday, I helped Linda host a beautiful bridal luncheon. The weather was fantastic, sitting in the mid-eighties and the flowers were absolutely exquisite.

The bride requested only white flowers for her big day and, in the end, decided to add a few splashes of green to the palette. We have never before catered to an all-white wedding at Aunt Willies Wildflowers but the combination of flowers turned out to be my favorite yet. So much so that I spent the entire day mentally redesigning my own wedding.

So, are you wondering which beautiful flowers we were able to work with?

Spider Mums


Poppy Pods and Hosta Leaves



As you can see from the following pictures, the finished bouquets were beautiful.

Bouquet #1

Bouquet #2

Bouquet #3

Bouquet #4 (I think this is actually 3 bouquets together.)

Bride’s Bouquet

I would highly recommend this color scheme for those of you in the midst of planning your wedding. These flowers (except the lilies) are also relatively inexpensive to purchase.

I hope you’ve enjoyed these pictures from my day on the farm. Be sure to check out more flower images in the “Farm Photos” tab.

My First Catering Gig

I love summer and I love Saturdays and today is both (at least summer break, even if the weather is still spring). I am currently sitting at my kitchen table, cookbooks haphazardly strewn about, coffee in hand, laptop playing Feist, and way too many baking supplies crowding the already crowded counter tops.

I always seem to have great expectations for my summers. You would think a break from all the classes and studying that normally consume my days would free up some time, however, that does not seem to be the case so far.

My list of things to do looks something like this:

  1. finish Avynlea’s blanket before she arrives: Due date T-one month
  2. cut a sew 50 yards of fabric into table runners for Kelly’s wedding
  3. finish at least 1 of the 3 wardrobe transformation projects originally intended for the blog 2 months ago
  4. read the book Ellyn sent me
  5. practice my violin so I continue to shame my instructor
  6. fix the curtains in my kitchen
  7. make curtains for the spare room instead of the sloppy draped fabric that’s been there for 2 years now
  8. finish my picnic quilt

The list goes on, but I think that gives you a good idea. Back to the point of this post…my boss asked if I would be interested in catering this Chamber Youth Leadership graduation ceremony on Monday. Because I love to bake, and can’t seem to turn down a challenge, I eagerly agreed. So, this weekend, my list will have to wait.

Here’s what I am making:

  • red velvet cake cookies with powdered sugar coating
  • shortbread cookies with cream cheese frosting, sprinkled with cocoa powder
  • pecan tassies (mini pecan pies)
  • chocolate covered peanut butter balls
  • homemade cheesecake layered brownies
  • sparkling pineapple/orange punch

So far this morning I have made red velvet cookies and pecan tassies. Included are a few pictures. You can find the red velvet cookie recipes here. The shortbread is basically the same recipes as my Rummy Shortbread Cookies, minus the rum. I know, big disappointed sigh from my readers, but high school students and parents, I figured it’s better to not chance anyone being offended.

I stole the pecan tassie and the peanut butter ball recipes from my mom-in-law. Thanks mom!

I am freezing the juices from my punch into two flower-shaped rings for the punch bowls and putting my home-grown mint leaves into the mix. I think it will turn out very nicely (will post a picture here once it is frozen so keep checking back). I’ll be sure to post the pecan tassie and peanut butter ball recipes shortly for you all when my oven isn’t beeping at me. Have you ever catered an event for 75-100 individuals? Feel free to leave any tips you may have. Wish me luck!