Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Emma's Patisserie Tea Party

"A daughter is a gift of love." ~ Unknown

In our family, turning 10 has become a rite of passage that we have celebrated in a big way. When the boys hit double digits, we surprised them with parties brimming with friends and extended family. (See Carson's rockin' surprise party here. We bowled Christian over here and here.) I have always told the girls they could get their ears pierced when they turned 10, so we celebrated that milestone for Mary Ashley with a Tiffany-themed brunch. Emma is not interested in getting her ears pierced yet, so we thought about a number of other themes. Initially, she wanted to do a Parisian fashion show, but as her guest list kept growing, I couldn't envision carrying out this theme at home. Ultimately, we settled on hosting a French Patisserie Tea Party.

With more than 30 little girls in attendance, I was in heaven decorating tables for this celebration. We were able to seat all the guests inside, so I will be sharing more photos of our tablescapes in an upcoming post. But for now, welcome to our dining room.

Fresh tulips brought glimpses of springtime to this happy setting.

Instead of hot tea, I served sparkling French lemonade for the girls. Punch cups we inherited from Joe's grandmother were perfect for this event. (I think Nanelle would have relished this party!) Instead of place cards, Emma wrote the girls' names on tags that we tied to the handles.

One of my favorite aspects of entertaining is filling the house with flowers. Tulips and other spring blooms from Trader Joe's and Fresh Market brought beauty to the dining room tablescape.

We invited all the girls from Emma's classes at school and church, so I opted for the ease of these pretty Caspari Tulip Dance Cocktail Napkins instead of linen napkins. The artwork and coloring brought loveliness to our table.

Springy shades of pink and yellow always make me smile!

Softening the mirror is a Martha Stewart Crafts Pom-Pom Garland in white.

For these petite arrangements, I wrapped a tulip leaf around the inside of the glass jar then placed three to five stems inside.

Rather than having one large arrangement, I clustered smaller posies along the length of the table. This allowed for conversation and gave each guest something pretty to look at.

Paper doilies from Dollar Tree and Michaels added detail beneath the dessert plates and the dinner plates I treated as chargers.

We enjoyed these blooms for more than a week!

Here is our precious birthday girl enjoying a strawberry during the party.

And here are a few of the friends who joined us for the festivities.

Thank you for stopping by today! There is much more beauty to come at Emma's Patisserie, so please visit again soon. And don't forget to enter for your chance to win a bundle of French-themed magazines here.

"A daughter is the happy memories of the past, the joyful moments of the present, and the hope and promise of the future." ~ Author Unknown

Photos by Nathan Prichard. Used with permission.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Easter in Georgia

"For I remember it is Easter morn,
And life and love and peace are all new born."
~ Alice Freeman Palmer

We enjoyed a busy Easter weekend that culminated in visits with family yesterday. Although we drove to Joe's parents' home in heavy rain, the precipitation eased enough for me to snap a few photos of the children and the Lesters' beautiful lawn.

The azaleas on their lakeside property are spectacular!

After the children indulged me in a few photos, I lingered outside to capture a few more vignettes. This adorable bunny -- nestled among blossoms and foliage -- caught my eye.

Speaking of bunnies, here are my four: Carson, 16; Christian, 14; Mary Ashley, 12; and Emma, 10. They are my heart!

The ground was too wet for an Easter egg hunt this year, but I have promised Emma that we will do a hunt this week. With the children growing up so fast, I must confess that it makes me smile that she wants to continue this tradition.

On the way back to Birmingham, we stopped in to see my grandparents and were also able to visit with my father and his wife. That was the cherry on top of a lovely day!

Back home last night, the children found Easter baskets full of surprises.

Knowing that we only have one more year with Carson before he graduates from high school, I am treasuring each holiday even more. Here is one final glimpse of these precious four who make every day worthwhile.

Happy Easter from the Lester family!

"Awake, thou wintry earth --
Fling off thy sadness!
Fair vernal flowers, laugh forth
Your ancient gladness!"
~ Thomas Blackburn, "An Easter Hymn"

Friday, March 25, 2016

Happy Easter!

"Easter spells out beauty, the rare beauty of new life." ~ S.D. Gordon

These lovely tulips graced our dining-room table during Emma's recent birthday tea, and they have served as colorful harbingers of springtime in the week since the party. I wish you and yours a blessed celebration of Easter and look forward to catching up next week.

Happy Easter from the Lesters!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

French Inspiration Giveaway

Dreaming of France is easy with all the gorgeous editorial content in our Hoffman Media magazines. Every year, our May/June issue of Victoria focuses on Gallic destinations, cuisine and decor. Last year's special-interest publication French Cottage -- one of my favorites -- offers inspiration galore. And the most recent issue of Bake from Scratch brims with mouthwatering French pastries.

I wrote the text for our May/June 2015 Cooking and Entertaining feature, "French Patisserie." Our test-kitchen chef, Loren Wood, really outdid herself creating a tantalizing menu of sweets. Later, when my talented friend Alinda and her daughters planned a Victoria-inspired tea party, it was a blessing to share their story of hospitality on Read more about the festivities in Gracious Entertaining: Mother and Daughter Bring Our French Patisserie to Life

With all of this beauty to behold, Emma and I had no shortage of ideas for bringing to life her 10th-birthday celebration. I will be sharing all the details of her recent party in upcoming posts, so be sure to stop by often to view our take on an afternoon in Paris.

Leave a comment below for your chance to win a bundle of our French-themed publications, and I will announce the winner at the end of our party coverage. 

Monday, March 21, 2016

Emma's Patisserie: A 10th-Birthday Tea Party

What a lovely day we had Saturday! Our little Emma turned 10 in February, and we celebrated this milestone with a French Patisserie Tea Party. Girls from her classes at school and church joined us for the festivities.

Emma and I dream of visiting France together someday, so this theme gave us an opportunity to recreate some of the allure of The City of Light. To welcome guests to a Parisian terrace, we positioned a bistro set on the front porch with an array of spring flowers.

On the table, a cheery vignette included a tray with tulips, teacups, and a menu for Emma's Patisserie.

Here is a view of the porch just before party time. I think we will enjoy this arrangement through the spring!

My talented brother, Nathan, captured beautiful images from our time together, and I can't wait to share them all with you.

Sweet cousins Kadence and Bailey joined us for the day, and we captured a few photos of our girls before welcoming many more girls to the family. (Left to right: Mary Ashley, Bailey, Emma, and Kadence)

And here are most of the lovely young ladies who joined us for an afternoon of Paris dreaming. We are so thankful Emma has so many sweet friends!

Upcoming posts will be brimming with tulips, teapots, and delicious confections, so please stop in again soon! 

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