Friday, July 21, 2017

More Paper Lantern Hot-Air Balloons

"The balloons only have one life, and the only way of finding out whether they work is to attempt to fly around the world." ~ Richard Branson

In my last post, I offered a how-to on making hot-air balloons from paper lanterns -- decorations we used for my sister-in-law's recent baby shower. Along with the larger pale blue balloons I showed you in that tutorial, I also made a smaller size in light apple green.

For the bases on this style, I cut the handles from straw baskets from Hobby Lobby. Crocheted trim hot glued around the rim added an extra detail.

Contrasting patterns of scrapbook paper, also from Hobby Lobby, made festive bunting.

We hung our blue and green hot-air balloons from the ceiling indoors, and placed several on tables with a candle tucked into the basket, but these adornments would look lovely swaying in the breeze at an outdoor party.

Several of these beauties are now hanging in the baby's nursery. Let's hope they bring happy dreams of beautiful adventures! To learn more about this project, visit this tutorial.

"We should all have personal hot air balloons and drift serenely through the clouds." ~ Rhys Brown

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Make Hot-Air Balloons from Paper Lanterns

"Nobody can be uncheered with a balloon." ~ Winnie the Pooh

We could not be more excited to be welcoming a sweet little nephew to our family this summer. In celebration, I recently hosted a party for my sister-in-law Shana. I will be sharing more details of our sprinkle -- a shower for a mother-to-be who already has at least one child -- in an upcoming post. But today I'm offering a tutorial for the charming decorations I made to fit our hot-air-balloon theme.

For this project, you will need paper lanterns. I bought one pack of ten 16-inch lanterns in pale blue and one pack of ten 14-inch lanterns in light apple green. (I will share photos of the green hot-air balloons in my next post.)

Hot-air balloons hung from the ceiling and served as candlelit table centerpieces at the party. I created bunting by cutting out scrapbook-paper triangles (2 inches deep for the 14-inch lanterns and 3 inches for the 16-inch lanterns), punching holes, and stringing the pennants onto lengths of baker's twine. Then I hot glued the bunting to the lantern.

When shopping for a basket to serve as the base, it is helpful to take a paper lantern with you for size comparison. I used straw baskets and whimsical animal-themed containers from Hobby Lobby for our balloons.

Paper straws connect the lanterns to the bases. Using a generous amount of hot glue, I carefully adhered four straws to the inside of each base, allowing the glue to cool completely before proceeding. 

To connect a base to a lantern, I turned the lantern over, touched the straws to the lantern to determine an even placement, then glued the straws to the lantern. This step must be done very carefully. Extra glue may be needed to assure a secure bond. Once the glue cooled, I turned the lantern back over to its base and glued lengths of ribbon to the lantern where the straws meet the lantern. This adds an extra embellishment and covers glue at these joints.

After the party, Shana chose several hot-air balloons to take home as mementos of our special day.

This sweet trio now hangs above the crib in the nursery -- special keepsakes to welcome the little one who has already stolen our hearts!

"If I were king of the world, babies born in airplanes, balloons and blimps would, instead of choosing to be German, Maldavian or American, all get special heavenly blue passports with a stork on the cover labeled 'Sky Baby' -- and they'd be allowed to come and go anywhere they please." ~ Robert Krulwich

Photos by Nathan Prichard. Used with permission.

Monday, July 17, 2017

A Visit to Hearts Desire Tea Room in Columbiana

"Perhaps it is while drinking tea that I most of all enjoy the sense of leisure." ~ George Gissing

Recently Mary Ashley, Emma and I visited Hearts Desire Tea Room in Columbiana, Alabama -- a special girls-only outing with family before my sister-in-law Shana welcomes a new baby boy. We recently celebrated this blessing-to-be with a "sprinkle" (a party for a mother who already has at least one child), so afternoon tea offered an opportunity to unwind after the previous whirlwind weekend.

Google Driving Directions for Hearts Desire may take you to the tea room's former location in Wilsonville, so be sure the path leads to the Columbiana Inn, a circa-1889 historic home near downtown Columbiana. Under the care of innkeepers Andrew and Diane Moore, the charming Victorian has found new life as a bed-and-breakfast.

Full-service English afternoon tea, available by reservation, features a choice of freshly brewed loose teas and a prix-fixe three-course menu.

My view included my sweet Mary Ashley, who thoroughly enjoyed her pot of Chocolate Mint tea. Other favorite blends at our table included Strawberry Shortcake, Peaches and Cream, and Peach Apricot.

The first course included vegetable quiche and chicken salad -- both house specialties -- and fresh fruit.

Teatime is a relaxed affair here, so there is plenty of time to take in the pretty vignettes. I felt right at home amid all the antiques.

Next came a tiered server laden with dainty morsels -- a delicious bounty to share.

China teacups and plates add interest to the decor. With so many makers represented, patrons are likely to find a sentimental connection. My father's wife, Vicki, recognized an heirloom pattern among those displayed on the wall.

Working our way up from the lowest tier of teatime treats, we began with savories, shown clockwise from below left: house-made pimento cheese in phyllo cups, cucumber sandwiches, finger sandwiches with ribbons of blueberry and strawberry cream cheese, and ham and cheese pinwheels. 

Next, we enjoyed a trio of petite tea breads, including traditional and cranberry-citrus scones and a mini banana muffin. Lemon curd and clotted cream were offered alongside.

This gleaming silver tea set caught my eye immediately. Isn't it lovely?

Our teatime ended with dessert. Although different sweets find their way into the rotation, Diane said the Hearts Desire Brownie is a signature offering that guests can look forward to enjoying every time they visit. There could only be one thing sweeter than this moist brownie topped with chocolate whipped cream and slivered almonds.

And that would have to be the company! Here, Mary Ashley and Emma pose with cousins Kadence and Bailey. For those who enjoy dressing up during teatime, an ample selection of costume accessories await at Hearts Desire. Although I did not don a vintage hat, feather boa or gloves for the occasion, I still left wearing a smile -- and looking forward to my next opportunity to have a cup of tea. 

"Tea is quiet and our thirst for tea is never far from our craving for beauty." ~ James Norwood Pratt

Friday, July 14, 2017

Returning to My Garden of Sentiment

"In my garden there is a large place for sentiment." ~ Abram L. Urban

Imagine my surprise when I popped in to visit A Little Loveliness earlier this week and discovered the layout littered with advertisements. I had not heard about recent policy changes for an image-hosting site that was used in the course of redesigning my blog several years ago, so I was startled by the sudden demand for annual fees totaling several hundred dollars. Thankfully, my talented designer, Kassie Garlock of Designs by Kassie, was able to restore loveliness yesterday. A few elements have had to change as a result of the transfer, but I can't tell you how relieved I am to know that my online journal has been saved.

Although I am not able to post with the frequency I once did, this blog is still a quiet refuge -- a place for my heart to rest. I love to linger here and hope that you do, too! Many of my deepest thoughts, fondest memories, most prized family photos, and favorite recipes and creative ideas have been placed here for safekeeping. So today I am counting my blessings that I can return to this collection of thoughts and dreams.

The posy of peonies above -- a delightful surprise at my local grocery store -- seemed a fitting image to share in celebration of this new chapter for the blog. There is more loveliness just around the bend, with upcoming posts already planned with baby-shower ideas, a creative project, and a delicious salmon recipe. But first, a visit to a local tea room. Look for that review on Monday.

Have a lovely weekend! And if you want to settle in here to revisit some of the blissful moments we have shared over the years, feel free to join me.  

"My garden of flowers is also my garden of thoughts and dreams. The thoughts grow as freely as the flowers, and the dreams are as beautiful." ~ Abram L. Urban

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Happy Independence Day!

Wishing you a blessed and happy celebration for the Fourth of July!
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