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summer garden party – the to do list.

Below is a to-do list for the garden party next month.  I’ll cross things off as I get them done, and perhaps blog about my findings.  While I do want this party to be pretty and natural with earthily wonderful details and all, I do need to be realistic — which means having a realistic budget.  After brainstorming, and scavenging, I found that I can use alot of my own pieces for decor and serving ware.  But some things do need to be purchased, whether by checking out the local thrift/antique shops, yard sailing, or a great sale.

Garden Party To-Do List:

purchase whimsical invitations [from People St. Clair, 10 count for $15]

purchase 10-12 white paper lanterns [from Paper Lantern Store, 6 (12 inch) + 6 (20 inch) for $23]

sew handmade cloth napkins

find a fun project for mom + daughter, and make/purchase supplies

sew handmade bunting

purchase supplies for red velvet cupcakes in a jar [glass jars, baker’s twine, wooden spoons] [8 oz. glass jars from Walmart, 12 count for $8.  baker’s twine from Parcel + Paper, variety pack for $11.  wooden spoons from Greenware, 100 count for $6.49]

birthday cupcakes in place of birthday cake [georgetown cupcakes]

find a cupcake stand [from Crate + Barrel, used giftcard]

find pretty plates [from Crate + Barrel, used giftcard]

packet of seeds per guest w/ small potted plant per guest [terra cotta clay pots from Michael’s, for .89 cents each]

wildflowers [poppies, lavender, wild blue indigo, cornflower, daises, queen anne’s lace, blue sage]

vintage styled paper straws [from My Sweet Life, 25 count for $3]

sew a birthday gift for dhara — a handmade cloth doll

decor of my own: ironrod chandelier, polish serving plates, doilies, vintage tablecloths + dish towels, vases, hanging glass lanterns, farm house table (seats 12-14), chairs, fabric covered chairs, table for lemonade, cake stands, anthropologie plates + teacups, framed photos of our dear dhara

more inspiration for the inspired mind…

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summer garden party – the idea.

As someone who grew up in a very large circle of family and friends, I’ve never had the chance to pull together the quaint shindig that’s been brewing in my mind for years.  It’s hard, especially in Indian culture, because you are required to invite everyone you know!  I’ve learned that the more people there are, the less personal a party becomes.  Now some parties require that everyone you know attend.  For example, our wedding.

I tried pulling together something that slightly resembled a well thought out and quaint gathering at our fall wedding, but there is only so much you can do with a guest list of 350 people.  However, I did what I could considering the amount of people present.  And a lovely day it was.  Whimsical wedding stationary designed by a friend, fall wildflowers, Potbelly cookie favors packaged in parchment paper, fall apples in red and green as place settings, a photo guest book depicting the 5 years we’d known each other, framed photos of our parents on their wedding day, etc.

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But, now it’s my turn.

My little girlybean will be turning 6 months on June 25th, and in celebration of her half birthday, Greg and I are throwing her a summer garden party with a small group of her girl counterparts, and their mamas.  Of course she won’t remember a lick of it, but I foresee it becoming a quaint tradition she’ll grow to love.

Let’s see if I can pull this thing together the way I see it in my mind!  And to help me organize my thoughts, I turn to something I’ve been keeping for a long time now — a “CREATE” folder on my desktop.  In this folder are photos I’ve gathered along the years of things I would like to sew, knit, craft, construct and create.  This folder gives me ideas when I need them most, because these are the things that inspire me and the colors, textures, mediums that I find beautiful.  My perfect party entails the warmth, delicate light, pretty linens, natural ambiance, and freshness found in these photos:

I have exactly 1 month to get everything done!  Next up, my summer garden party to-do list.

eggs, milk, bread, butter.

I went to the farm to pick up 2 dozen eggs from Silka.  She’s an eastern European woman who looks like she’s good with animals.  She happens to be on the same food train that I just got on —  also wanting to feed her daughter real food, she invested in some chickens — now she has more eggs than she knows what to do with.  The eggs she gave me came in all different shades of brown and cream.  They came in different sizes too.  Some small ones, and some really big ones.  A part of me was afraid that a chick might come out an egg as I cracked it over the frying pan for my morning breakfast.  So far, so good — no chicks.  How do you separate the chick eggs from the breakfast eggs anyway?!?  Someone, please explain this…

We also got our first delivery of fresh milk, bread and butter.  The large South Mountain Creamery truck stopped in front of our home fully arrayed in black + white cow spots — surely leaving the neighbors wondering.  The milk, which came in glass bottles, tasted a tad bit creamier than regular grocery store milk.  The bread, rough — the way I like it, was filled with nuts, seeds, and grains — delicious!  And the butter tasted real — not like that I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter junk.

It was also Dhara’s first time at a farm.  She watched curiously as the farm animals sauntered this way and that.  She had a nice time as her grandma explained everything in detail.  Along the way, we met a little boy named Patrick, who I’d like to pretend is Dickon Sowerby from The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett.  Dickon is, in some sense, the spirit of Missel Moor.  His eyes are described as looking like “pieces of moorland sky,” and he smells of “heather and grass and leaves…as if he were made of them.”  When the reader first encounters him, he is sitting beneath a tree charming animals with the music of his wooden pipe.”

Patrick may not have been charming animals with the music of his wooden pipe when we first met him, but he easily could be doing just that.  He lives in a stone house just beyond the farm and entertains himself by befriending visitors and introducing them to the farm animals.  Did I mention that it’s not even his farm?

avonlea days.

A couple moons ago, my husband, who was feeling adventurous one Sunday afternoon, drove down a gravel road we had never driven before.  What we found was a lovely meadow by the river right down the road from our home, an avonlea is what I’d like to call it.

We finally had a free and quiet Saturday to enjoy this past weekend, so we filled up our picnic basket, restrung our fishing rods, packed our baby and headed down to the triadelphia resivoir during the cool of the morning.  We stopped at a yard sale on the way.  We saw a very cool old-school, miniature claw-foot tub.  It was the kind you would find in an old farmhouse — the kind of tub you had to bend your knees and sit in while someone poured steaming water over your back.  If we had a home of our own, this would be a very lovely addition.

For the most part, I never walk away with a yard sale purchase, but it always amazes me how much hope I have in every yard sale I go to.  The hope that I will walk away with some hidden treasure.  So, no, even though I usually never get anything, I don’t think I will ever stop going to yard sales, because there is always the hope that, “maybe this is the one that I will find something special.” I happened to pick up two doilies for .50 cents each at the one I went to on Saturday.  I’ll be using them for my little girly’s summer garden party next month, and then hopefully for a sewing project I’ve been mulling over in my mind.

mama day 2010.

So my first Mother’s Day (2010) came and went, and with it came some morning sunshine in the form of a smiley baby, pretty wildflowers + a sweet note written on parchment paper from my hub, a beautiful card from Dhara, a trip to my new-found favorite Yogi Berry — a delish up and coming frozen yogurt joint I could go to absolutely everyday (it actually tastes like yogurt, and not that TCBY yuck stuff!), and lastly, the lovely gift of a serger from Greg!  I’ve been dying to have one so that I can fine tune my little creations.  I feel so blessed to be a mom, even though I went through the whole day thinking more about my mom, my grandma and Greg’s mom.  It has still yet to hit me that I’m a full-time mom with a full-time baby.

Greg, Dhara and myself had a wonderful weekend with Greg’s parents and extended family, the Smith’s.  I was so very bummed I forgot my camera to capture all the warm and fuzzy moments.  Especially this morning when we came down for breakfast — Dhara handed a daisy to her teary-eyed Grandma Smith.  It was so very special.  When we went home, I got some photos of Dhara with her other grandma, or as we call her, Ammachi.

Last, but not least, is Dhara’s great grandma.  Again, I didn’t have my camera on hand, so I had to use my camera phone for some quick shots at church.  Look at my grandma looking all bashful!  But she sure is proud of her little great granddaughter, Dhar-uh!


thank you.

Before Dhara was born, I picked out the birth announcement I wanted to use.  I knew I wanted to take photos of her in the hospital, and use one of those photos for the announcement.  Fast forward to the day of her birth, [by the way, I’ve procrastinated long enough, my belated birth story is still a work in progress, but is soon to be posted], — I was in labor for 24+ hours, had a third degree tear, and my baby was under light therapy for a few days for high levels of jaundice.

Being that I was hardly in any shape to do much photo-taking, I didn’t get to do my pretty little birth announcement.  So instead, I made personalized photo thank you cards for everyone who prepared Greg and I to be parents with everything we needed to take care of a baby and more!

I ended up using moo for the thank you cards because it was the most cost effective solution for 60 cards.  In addition to the thank you cards, I made some ministry/prayer cards with our family photo, contact info and blog on it.

Speaking of thank you’s, I got a great package in the mail today.  Well actually it was a package for Dhara.  A dear family friend of Greg’s, Jane, mailed Dhara a gift wrapped in brown paper.  If the gift is wrapped in brown paper, it’s gotta be good, right?!!  Upon opening it, I uncovered a very thoughtfully wonderful gift.  In it were 3 of the simplest toddler-sized salwars [ethnic Indian wear] made of fine cotton in crisp white, cream, and grey — they brought to mind the simple elegance of the young Indira Gandhi.  There was also a sweet bohemian Mexican dress, 2 folk cd’s for children, a stuffed animal, and an embroidered heart satchel.  I love gifts like this — ethnic, beautiful, and personal.

Jane, thank you for the lovely brown paper gift!  We loved it, even my mom, who oohhed and awwed over it! : )

I’ll leave you all with some folk songs off one of the albums that Jane got for Dhara.  The album is called “You are My Little Bird” by Elizabeth Mitchell, and I absolutely love all the songs on it!

short stories of a busy week.

A Pastoral Visit, by Susie Mey

There is surely something special about people who invest their lives into the lives of others in a very real way.  My husband and I were not only trained under Pastor Dale in international campus ministry, we were also mentored by him when it came to things like disagreements in our marriage, our personal relationship with Jesus, and the sinful state of our hearts.  To have someone who lives to see you and others walk into the life God destined for you is amazing.  Greg and I feel incredibly blessed to have him as a part of our lives.  God used him (among others) to bring about the supernatural thing we call our marriage.  He married us in a lovely ceremony 2.5 years ago.

So, it was a pleasure when he and his family paid us a visit this past week, and what a needed visit it was.  I felt really dry in the faith department.  The kinda faith that “moves mountains”.  He spoke a message, which I know was directly from the heart of God, that spoke faith into everyone that heard it.  It made me realize that simple faith in Christ, and relying on His grace, is needed everyday, every hour.  Without it, we can’t live an overcoming life.  We also invited him to speak to our students (of the Friday Night Bible Study) at the University of Maryland Baltimore County.  Thirty students attended the meeting.  Many rededicated their lives to Jesus, and many stuck around late for Q+A.  It was an awesome, awesome time.

Before God called Pastor Dale into full-time ministry, he wanted to be a veterinarian.  So on Monday we went to the National Aquarium in Baltimore — Dhara’s first time!  Bless her heart, and her curiosity!


An Aunt is a Lovely Thing, by Susie Mey

Once upon a time, there lived an Aunt Beth.  Aunt Beth had a niece named Dhara.  One week, Aunt Beth decided to visit her niece for a few days.  They played and played and played.  Dhara loved her Aunt Beth dearly and greatly missed her when she left for her home at the beach.  Dhara had a blast playing with her aunt and gallivanting around town together.

As a birthday gift, Dhara took her Aunt Beth to downtown Baltimore to a snazzy bead shop called Beadazzled so that her Aunt Beth could design herself a necklace from the many beautiful beads found there.  They also went to a local farm and saw sheep, goats, cows, piglets, chicks, and 2 huge bunnies.  Dhara’s mom was in the mood for some of Twins Polish Boleslawiec Pottery, so they all headed to Aunt Beth’s old stomping grounds of Bowie to the Shops at Fabian House and some other antique shops.  Dhara’s mom also often frequented those shops when she lived in Bowie too.  Dhara’s mom picked up a Polish plate to add to her beloved collection, while Aunt Beth got an antique Maryland license plate to add to her own collection.  And lastly, Dhara got to introduce Aunt Beth to her 3 little woodland cousinlies in New Jersey.  Aunt Beth is super great with little ones, so the 3 woodland cousinlies loved her too.  They all played and had chocolate cake together.  The End.

Cousinlies, by Susie Mey

As a young child, I always cherished the days spent with my older cousins.  I remember my Ohio cousins driving to Maryland every year in their wagon bearing gifts of coloring books, stories, good laughs and secret cash — my aunt would secretly pull me aside before she left, take my hand, and fill it with a folded up $20 dollar bill — how surreptitiously exciting for a small child like me!

So you can probably see why I was excited to take Dhara to meet more of her little cousins for the first time and begin the tradition of summers together, slumber parties near a cozy fireplace, lemonade stands and their dear Betty Aunty reading them books like Anne of Green Gables.  It was the sweetest thing to see these four lasses together.  Also had the tastiest venison burger ever for dinner.  I wish I had one right now.  More photos here.

Red Mango, by Susie Mey

It’s the season we’re in.  A season of babies.  We went to Long Island, New York for my cousin’s baby shower.  The highlight of this trip was seeing Dhara as the most pleasant, smiley baby ever.  I just love this little girl to pieces.  She didn’t mind at all being passed around and around and around.  She gave great big smiles to everyone, and wasn’t the least bit homesick.  Maybe it’s that Karingatal blood in her — really gregarious people, my maternal side is.

My cousin told me about a yogurt place in Manhattan called Red Mango.  I am such a sucker for trying new yogurts or really great frozen yogurt places, which, by the way, are popping up all over the place.  (And I don’t mean TCBY).  We wanted to go to Red Mango, but for the sake of saving time (to get back home at a decent hour) we passed the savory offer.  But wouldn’t you know…  Our GPS, funny systems these things are, took us right through Manhattan and right passed Red Mango, which, by the way, we didn’t stop at because we were so caught up in all the hubwub of Manhattan traffic and stylish folks streaming out of every direction, that we missed it in the blink of an eye.  Just like that.  Boo.