Thankful Thursday – My Big Sister is My Best Friend

How well I remember, several weeks after Annie was born – I was driving home from Birmingham with two year old, Elle, on our way home from our dear friend, Laura’s graduation – when Elle, out of the blue, said, “when Annie’s grows up, I will hold her hand and help her walk”. Annie was about 6 or 7 weeks old and still at Children’s Hospital. Elle had yet to be able to play with her sister but she knew, even at that young age, that things were not going to be normal.

Elle has certainly kept that promise, and never more true than today at Special Olympics when she fixed her bow, fixed her drink, got her chips and held her hand to walk on the track at Central, practicing for her event!

We couldn’t have been prouder of these girls today!

My favorite picture of the day!

It only seemed fitting, after all the support Elle had given Annie, that Annie would support Elle at this “rest stop”! Last week, when the family compiled “12 Reasons to Celebrate Elle” for her birthday, the list included “Best Big Sister” – we certainly got that one right! And… if Annie could talk, she would tell us that her Big Sister is her Best Friend and that she is very thankful for her!
Enjoy this video that the Big Sister made of the Little Sister’s special day! It will make you smile!

Family Fiesta

One advantage to having a small party like we had last week for Elle is that we still have a family party! Our Family Fiesta included my favorite Mexican dishes – fajitas, black beans, rice, salsa/chips-and a new Fiesta Dip I tried along with Sweet Tea and Margarita Punch and, of course, birthday cake with ice cream! With exception of the Fiesta Dip and Margarita Punch, you can find the recipes HERE from my Cinco de Mayo blog last May.
Once again, the Publix bakery came through “with flying colors”.  I found a photo through Google images and they were able to make it just as I ordered! Even the cute tall, skinny, colorful candles came from Publix! So delicious, too! And not expensive!
Two new recipes add to my recipe box! Fiesta Dip and Margarita Punch! I had seen the Fiesta Dip recipe but almost forgot about it until the last minute. Then, of course, I couldn’t find the recipe so I made it from memory! That’s scary but it turned out great and was a big hit!
Fiesta Dip
8 oz. cream cheese softened
1 can of chili, no beans
8 oz. Mexican blend cheese
Spread cream cheese in the bottom of a small baking dish. Cover with chili. Cover with cheese and bake at 350 degrees until cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve with Scoops!
Margarita Punch
(Non Alcoholic)
12 oz. can frozen lemonade
12 oz. can frozen limeade
1 cup powdered sugar
3 cups crushed ice
Mix all ingredients together well (the powdered sugar tended to clump so I stirred it an extra long time) and freeze in a large pitcher. Remove from freezer 1-1 1/2 hours before serving. Just before serving add a cold 2 liter lemon-lime drink.
This, too, was a big hit! Not a drop left! Nothing like the flavor of lime with Mexican food.
To add color and festivity to the Fiesta, I made colorful flowers from paper napkins and banner from colorful tissue paper. See how to make them HERE Super easy! Super quick! Super Cheap! So much color!
Also part of the decoration and a tribute to Elle’s 12th Birthday, the family put together “Top 12 Reasons to Celebrate Elle”! This is a fun and meaningful gift that can be done by a group or individual for any birthday. I have especially enjoyed doing it with my Birthday Club for milestone birthdays.

To Elle, may all your wishes come true!

A "Beautiful" Birthday

 Twelve! I can’t believe that Elle is twelve! If you know us, you know that we all are about a party but this year, Elle just couldn’t decide what she wanted to do for her birthday. She settled on dinner and shopping with just a couple of close friends – definitely make up shopping at Ulta, dinner at Kobe, maybe a manicure, and clothes shopping at Midtown.
Shopping bags in hand, these cute girls were ready to shop! The “adventure” began at Ulta where they planned to check out the latest make up trends. Little did they know, a big surprise was in store for them!
“Hey, Guys!”
I had secretly invited “Eleventh Gorgeous”, You Tube Beauty Gurus, to join us. These very stylish sisters who just happen to live here, showed up at Ulta as planned. Elle and her friends were shocked and for the first time ever, speechless!! “Oh! My! Gosh!” and “I feel like I am looking at a video” was their initial reaction.

Tracy and Stefanie, who were recently featured in the Spring 2013 edition of the Tuscaloosa Magazine, shared tips on hair products, make up, nail polish and more! They were more than gracious in sharing their favorites, things that worked and things that didn’t and this Mom likes that their specialty is shopping on a budget!
Elle, Emma, Mary Harbin
These beautiful girls, who have been friends since kindergarten, made some precious memories that they won’t soon forget. A very special thank you to Tracy and Stefanie for taking the time to make this birthday celebration  “beautiful”!

Each shopping bag included an Eleventh Gorgeous Palladia lip gloss, a monogrammed wooden hanger and their dinner glass!

The girls had so much fun with Tracy and Stefanie at Ulta that we almost didn’t make it to Kobe before we had to call it a night! We didn’t do manicures, or clothes shopping or cupcakes or anything else but it really didn’t matter!

This birthday girl called it the “Best Birthday Ever!”
Follow “Eleventh Gorgeous” on You Tube, Twitter, Facebook or Instragram for very practical and fun beauty and fashion tips!

A Sweet Shoppe Party

When I wrote about Annie’s party earlier this week, I wanted it to be all about Annie and her favorite people. Today, I wanted to share more details about the party – some great ideas that I found to make the party special!

The Invitation: I guess some people plan a party and then look for the invitation. I usually find a cute invitation and plan a party around it, just like this one from Krown Kreations on Etsy. The water bottle labels below coordinate with the invitation. Check out Krown Kreations HERE. They have the cutest party “stuff”! You can also follow them on Facebook!

The Welcome: Annie’s guest entered through “Lollipop Lane” – paper plates, attached to a dowel rod and tied with tulle, lined the walkway. The Happy Birthday Banner over the door is a family tradition at our house. We got it at Pottery Barn many years ago.

The Cake: Up until 2 days before the party, I was planning to make the cake myself, but I just couldn’t do it! It takes way too much time, only to be gobbled up in just a few minutes. That is exactly why I’ve never really been a cake decorator. This cute cake was made by the Publix bakery!! I just added the twisted lollipops that we found at Party City!
The Food: We do make cupcakes! Like I said, I planned the party around the invitation and I really wanted to use alot of aqua and blue. We are usually pink and green girls but I wanted to be different this time. Orange is not a very popular color around here (all in fun!) but I specifically looked for orange cupcakes and found a “keeper”! These would also be perfect for an Auburn, Tennessee or Florida tailgate party! HERE is the recipe!
Elle and I loved making the cupcakes, just like the girls on TLC’s DC Cupcakes, which is where this yummy recipe came from! Find the recipe HERE
We also served white chocolate fudge, white chocolate covered peanuts,
gumballs, and all kinds of candy! Party City has the best selection of candy for a Sweet Shoppe party. We always shop there in Auburn. Wish we had a Party City in Tuscaloosa! My Mother’s cheese straws and some “Annie’s Bunnies” party mix were the non-sweet menu items.
I tried to make a topiary with the “dum dums” but it looked more like a blooming flower in a flower pot. The Styrofoam ball loaded with the suckers was really heavy and wouldn’t stand up. I did not get a Styrofoam base like I should have and just couldn’t make another trip to Hobby Lobby! Live and learn!
The Drinks: After all that sugar, we had 3 drink options. Coffee, of course! Bottled Water and Ms. Kathy’s Beautiful Blue Punch!

These cute water bottle labels from Krown Kreations are so cute – simply printed on card stock, cut out and applied to bottles with mailing tape!

Ms. Kathy’s punch is the best! Ms. Kathy was one of Annie’s para educators who is now enjoying retirement. She always made this fabulous punch for Sprayberry events, including the dedication of the library in my Dad’s name. It is delicious and the prettiest blue/green color, too! You can find Ms. Kathy’s punch HERE
The Favors: Annie always give “Hugs and Kisses” to her guests! We wrapped toilet paper rolls, filled with Hershey’s Hugs and Kisses, with wrapping paper and cellophane, tied with curling ribbon and added a label made with Print Artist!
Happy parties make happy birthday girls! Someone said, “Annie must really like sweets” – Actually, she doesn’t – she just a really sweet girl and that deserves a “sweet” party!

A Perfect 10

The Birthday Girl

10 years ago today, a very tiny little bundle of joy came into our lives! Ann Olivia a.k.a. Annie (or Annie Bannie, or AB, or Annie Boo Boo or Lulu) entered the world at a whopping 4 lb. 11 oz. Her birth didn’t exactly go as expected and she spent just over 2 months at Children’s Hospital. Her very excited big sister had to wait that long before she could truly play the big sister role which she has done so well!

Elle and Annie
Here we are 10 years later, celebrating our sweet Annie!
Some of Annie’s favorite people joined us on Sunday afternoon for some sweet treats to celebrate the occasion – some new recipes that I will share in a future blog!
Annie’s “sweet shop” included birthday cake, cupcakes, candy, white chocolate fudge, white chocolate covered peanuts, gumballs and Ms. Kathy’s beautiful blue punch and of course, Granny’s cheese straws, Annie’s personal favorite!
We are thankful for each and every one of Annie’s family and friends who have been a part of her life and it was special to have some of them share in the celebration!
Aunt Deb, Nannie, Granddaddy and Granny
Carol Grace and Alex

Ms. Shari – thanks for the chips!
Weze has been one of Annie’s best grown up friends!

Alex, Annie’s best friend from school and her sweet Mom!
Ms. Hope, Annie’s first teacher!
Annie’s message to her sweet friends!
Thanks, Weze, for helping me look cool!
Of course, the purse was a gift from her fashionable big sister!
Great helpers and friends, Elle and Mary Harbin!
Our Sweet Annie may not be a typical 10 year old but she is a perfect 10 to us! We love you, Annie Bannie! Happy 10th Birthday!