Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Fall Traditions

I just gave a talk in church on the importance of having family traditions, so I thought I would share some of ours.
At least the ones we participated in last weekend.
We have a lot of fall traditions.

( Love the sign that says free water with $100 purchase. That must be bringing in customers by the hoards.)

Usually we are all about the pumpkin muffins, but this season we are switching it up and making tons of these. Why? Because they are CRAZY easy and the recipe doesn't call for eggs, which is great because my little sous chef cannot keep her mits out of the dough.

Every year since Shane and I have been married, we go on a fall date the last weekend in September. We go shopping at Target to load up on their newest Halloween decor and then get something fallish to eat. Usually it is Starbucks Caramel Apple cider and pumpkin bread, but this year we saw that our favorite Greek restaurant still had the patio open. We ate hummus and enjoyed the crisp night air. What are your fall traditions?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Tea for Two

Speaking of terrible twos, Lydia's best friend Kate turned two last week and to celebrate, her mom threw a "Tea for Two" Princess party. How cute is that! Click here to see even more of the celebration.

Terrible Twos

I know that they call these the terrible twos. But right now, I am wishing that time stood still. Last week Lydia and I were at the park (like almost every day since the weather has gotten cooler), having a picnic (like almost every meal since the weather has gotten cooler) and Lydia felt a cool breeze. Probably the first time she has been chilly for months. Suddenly she gasped "Oh mommy! We need to make a snowman cause it is cold and have Christmas with Papa and Grandma and Santa will come but I not sit on his lap, only the Easter bunny.

I just wrapped her up in my arms and buried my head in her hair. Please stay this little and sweet. Just for a little longer. Mommy isn't ready for her baby to go quite yet.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

What I did today.

This was my gift wrapping closet this morning.

I found this little number for $3 at a yard sale.

This is my closet now.

I am seriously embarrassed to admit I almost bought this wrapping storage unit from The Container Store a few months ago....for almost $200. In fact, Shane and I were walking towards the register to buy it when I realized I could FILL a closet with wrapping paper and ribbons for the same price as what I was buying to store it all in.

Anyway. That is what I did for much of my day. I'm pretty proud of myself.

What did you do today?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Doing my part for Nie Nie

If you are wanting to do something to help Nie Nie, head over to a room somewhere. She has been having auctions to benefit Nie recovery. I have donated one of my Paisley Lane pieces. Check it out.

Consignment joys

Except for the occasional trip with my mom and sisters I tend to avoid yard sales, at least for the purpose of finding clothes. They are just too hit or miss for me. Sometimes you can find awesome stuff, but a lot of times - they are kind of gross. I am a big believer in children's consignment sales. Consignment sales where everything is inspected for stains, rips..... that kind of sale.

Twice a year I hit this great consignment sale and load up on play clothes for the next 6 months. For play clothes these are really great quality brands. Maybe nothing from the Dolce and Gabbana junior collection (I wish!) but mostly Baby Gap, Boden, Ralph Lauren and the like. I love getting quality clothes for so cheap.
Last winter I decided to actually consign my own clothes. Not that I really have a bunch of baby clothes I am dieing to get rid of. I hope I have another girl one day. The minimum amount of items you can consign is 15 and I brought 16. My purpose was to be allowed at....Consignors Day. One day before the general public is allowed to shop, the consignors are allowed into the warehouse. There, mothers and grandmothers will storm the door to find $2 gymboree sweaters and barely used running strollers.
Although I was new to the consigning racket, I knew enough to come an hour early, laundry basket in tow, to wait outside the door. When I got there, the line was already around the building. And did I mention that it was snowing. In Tennessee! I think it was the only day we actually saw an accumulation.
As I stood there will my fellow (rival) shoppers, watching the door with eager anticipation I realized something. I was lame. I was turning into...a mom. The last time I stood in the cold like this was to see the Smashing Pumpkins in concert. Of course that was overnight and I met the band after the concert. That was cool. Standing outside a warehouse to get toddler jammies, not so cool.
Oh well. I guess that is the transition of life. Of course, I would still wait in line to see a great band play. Though I would probably avoid the mosh pit this time around.

I did get some great stuff this time. Check out this blabla backpack I scored. Brand new for $5. It is $42 online. Merry Christmas Lydia! You will be finding this under the Christmas tree this year along with some handmade hairclips and bracelets to match.

Consignment sales and the 75% off rack at target are my very favorite shopping friends.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I've Moved!

My local friends are probably saying to themselves...."um, what?". I should be more specific - my jewelry line - Paisley Lane has moved. From the main floor study to the upstairs extra bedroom. Shane and I have been getting kind of sick of the jewelry mess that is constant in the study. When I finally get it clean, I am loth to mess it up again, so then nothing gets done. I finally moved my stuff up to the extra room. It is a work in progress, but I love the privacy. I knew I had to get to a lockable room when Lydia took one of my completed necklaces and dropped it into a portable fan. That was not pleasant.

Let me take you on a little tour....

  1. Saying it Simply designed this fantastic plaque for me to display at my vendor show table. They have the cutest home decor ever! My house is full of their creations.

  2. My friend Mary Lea sent me the coolest birthday package - but I have to say that this "Twilight" Godiva chocolate bar was my favorite. (A $5 candy bar? This Twilight thing is out of control!) I am saving it until I have completed my monthly jewelry quota.

  3. Love this clipboard? I got it at Lemon Annie. She has great personalised frames (and a darling blog header if I do say so myself...)

  4. I was so excited when Lolly Jane Boutique agreed to a trade. I see Lolly Jane everywhere on the blogasphere. I love this Paisley Lane vinyl she designed for me. The site is fabulous...you must check it out.

Oh - and can I just say that it is great to have some place for my random pics and cards. Why didn't someone tell me that stainless steel fridges aren't magnetic!

I guess this means I am going to have to get to work....especially if I want that candy bar!

Hey! I just noticed that this is my 200th post. Well aren't I super duper.

Monday, September 22, 2008

First day of Fall

I think that I could be a pretty good photographer, but it is generally hard to do that without a good camera. Shane and I have been planning on getting the Cannon that has graced my sidebar for months, but with the situation I discussed in my previous blog, we are thinking it probably isn't going to happen anytime soon. Instead of moping however, I decided to celebrate the first day of fall, my very favorite season, by taking the old point and shoot camera out to the back yard. Today I am grateful for crisp air, macintosh apples and to whoever invented digital cameras. Happy fall to you!

Where is the money tree now that we need it?

Every month the bill that is higher (by far) than any other bill is our mortgage. I'm sure that is the same for most everyone. Sadly, this month something tops it. Car repairs, not just my car but Shane's truck as well, is DOUBLE our mortgage. I am trying to not be depressed, but when your savings is eaten into by something as lame as that- especially in this freakish economy- it is hard to stay super chipper. That is my vent. Sniff. And to think...we could have taken a trip to Europe for the same price. It will be just my luck that I'll need a root canal next month....if I do, I am paying extra for the happy gas.

Friday, September 19, 2008


My trip to New York was fabulous. I needed the away time more than I realised. One evening I was meeting a friend at 10pm and I had some time to kill. I went for a walk down 7th Ave in Brooklyn. I basked in the busyness of it all while I just wandered. My best thinking time is always done in a cafe or city setting. I know. It is strange. Still, the decompression was tangible as I stopped into little shops still open and leisurely purchased flowers from a corner market. Don't you love how there are flowers being sold everywhere in New York? I found a french bakery and found the smells so alluring, I was seduced into procuring a small slice of chocolate cake. I almost tried to order in French, as the baker hardly spoke any English, but I could feel the inevitable humiliation, so I thought better of it.

As I walked, I thought, as I have thought many times before, that the city life is the one I am most suited for. I am an adult person. Obviously I am an adult, but I mean that I like adult things. I like quiet dinners and grown up conversations. I like business
meetings and conference calls. I like wearing tailored clothes and carrying small purses.

Being a mother rarely entails any of these things. Strange that even so, I totally love what I do everyday -(most days). I love it because I love my daughter so much and because I know that what I am doing is so important. I love watching her grow and getting to be part of it. Rocking after she has woken in the night - holding her close to me - that is some of the most concentrated joy I have ever felt. However if someone told me that I had to go back to work...and my career would be working as a nanny or at a Day Care facility....shoot me now.

This whole stay-at-home thing may not be quite "my style" but I don't think that makes me any less of a mother. (In fact, I think that I am doing a pretty bang up job of it.) I just have to be extra focused on the balancing act of life. I have to make sure that the non-mommy parts of me have a proper outlet so that I can enjoy fully the mommy time. This is crucial to me since the mommy time is 90% of my life. I want to revel in the precious gift of having a child, not resent the enormity of its impact. This trip was the largest helping of non-mommy time I have had since Lydia was born. It was total bliss - but I missed my family and I was ready to come home. (I could not stop hugging and kissing Lydia when I arrived home. Is it just me or did she get even more adorable while I was gone?!?)

Some of my favorite moments from the visit were part of the cutest birthday gift from my sister in law, Sara. She sent me this beautifully wrapped gift entailing some of the fun outings she would treat me to while I was visiting the big apple. Such a great idea! Check them out:

Picnic in the Park
(The goat cheese was so good, I think I literally cried.)

Massage and Pedicures

Gourmet Hot Chocolate under the Brooklyn Bridge


And just to make sure this is the LONGEST post I have ever made...even more fun times....

Meeting my new niece Lucca -


(The I Love NY winner scored!)

Seeing Diane, my best friend from when I went to school in Jerusalem.

(I had not seen her in 10 years.)

And of course, the best part of visiting NYC is seeing crazy things that I personally just can't understand....

Have a great weekend. I'm out....

Best of Chattanooga Winners!

Congrats to Miss Bliss who won the P.F. Chang's $50 gift card and to Hannah, the winner of Tea for two! - Email me your addresses and I will get those right out!
I am going to break from the giveaway thing for a bit. Check back in about two weeks. It is going to be a giveaway craze over here at Natalie's Sentiments. Seriously. You don't want to miss it. I like to celebrate autumn in a big way.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Monday, September 15, 2008

Best of Chattanooga

Well here I am in New York... sidewalk cafe, laptop computer and Wi-Fi...what else do I need in life? (I will lie and say that I didn't cry a little when I kissed Lydia goodbye.)

So I have found a noticeable trend whenever I visit New York. I have this same conversation with whomever I meet. 

"Natalie, where do you live?"

"Chattanooga, TN"

The person pauses and looks at me with a confused look on their face, head nodding to indicate that they have heard me. Then they reply,
 "Chattanooga huh? So.....what's that like?"
                         *                                     *                                   *                                   *
I can understand why Chattanooga may seem like a random little parcel of land to call one's own. When Shane told me that he had been offered a promotion in Chattanooga, TN I had that same hesitation and then asked "The place with the train?"

Now, 4 years later I can say that I honestly love living in Chattanooga. I've decided that a fun little thing I could do is have a monthly post showcasing some of my Chattanooga favorites. Just my opinions on fantastic aspects of this little city that I am currently calling home. And let's make it a little more interesting. I will throw in a few giveaways just for fun. Keep reading! There are two fantastic giveaways below. 

Best of Chattanooga - Fine Dining

If something low lit and desperately romantic is what you are searching for, St. John's Restaurant cannot be rivaled. This restaurant may be dining perfected. Chef/Owner Daniel Lindley is a master at his craft. Every bite is decadence.

Shane and I had the opportunity to dine at St. John's earlier this month. We had been there before, but before I named it my pick for the Best of Chattanooga, I thought I should experience it once more. Just walking to my table, I found it hard not to giggle in anticipation. The restaurant itself is stunning, with giant Corinthian columns reaching into the second story along with huge bulbous chandeliers floating from the ceiling. My grin couldn't be contained after being seated at a quiet table for two overlooking downtown Chattanooga, the white tablecloth graced with a single candle.

I started with the Summer corn ravioli with Alabama jumbo lump crab & forest hill farms’ sungold tomatoes. Sweet fresh corn, salty crab, ripe tomatoes and fresh basil created a perfect medley of summer. Shane had the smoked corn & white bean soup with butter poached Maine lobster & tomato concasse. I personally am not a fan of lobster, but was surprised to find this particular dish delectable.

For our main course I chose the Hudson Valley duck and quail breast with roasted sweet potatoes, arugula and mostada. If our appetizers encompassed summer, this dish was as if gracefully moving on to fall. The succulent fowl was perfectly accented by the peppery arugula and sweet potatoes. I found it a bold choice to combined these two meats, but I was amazed at how they complimented each other.

If you are worried that your husband may shy away by gourmet fare like I have described, not to worry. Shane ordered the "safe" Struba Ranch Kobe beef zabuton steak with ginger marinade, potato puree and chipotle pepper relish. I stole much of the dish for myself when he wasn't looking.

I could write pages about this one dining experience. The tuna tar tare lived up to my (Northwest) high standard of freshness and flavor. The fried green tomatoes added a bit of southern charm. The 3 page wine list is impressive; even to a non-drinker like myself . Our server, Bethany, was flawless.

We thought we could eat no more... until the desserts arrived. We were both amazed at the sophistication of the warm milk chocolate puddling and caramel ice cream. Pudding always seems so mundane, but this simple dish, warm and silky, cold and creamy was perfectly scrumptious.

The tasting of Mayfield Farm's Peaches -cobbler, brulee and cheesecake- seemed like an obvious choice. I enjoyed the mascarpone cheesecake surrounded in the ripest of peaches and the cobbler was classic. Shane and I were both mentioning how much we had enjoyed our meal when we took a bite of the peach creme brulee. We both paused, savored the dish then looked at each other with wide eyes. Shane simply shook his head and announced "bravo". Peaches, ginger and the most dulcet accent of basil. This dish was pure ambrosia.

St. John's Restaurant is a must if you are visiting Chattanooga, or if you are lucky enough to live here. Perfect for a birthday, anniversary or wedding party. Don't come on a night when the babysitter needs to be home early. We sat down a little after 8 pm and we strolled back to our car well after 10. This is a place that you don't want to rush.

"Best of Chattanooga" - Girls Night Out

I am surprising myself by listing a chain restaurant in my "best of", but the PF Chang's China Bistro in Chattanooga is spectacular. I have been a fan of this super modern take on Asian cuisine for a while now, but walking into the Chattanooga restaurant made me a believer in PF Chang's as a place of adult refuge. When I want to "get away" with the girls, I want a place that is an instant party. I want a place that isn't a waste of makeup.

PF Chang's is loud, fun and delicious. The Chattanooga restaurant is particularly fabulous with its open floor plan, impressive decor and friendly waitstaff. - For my birthday last week my girlfriends and I visited PF Chang's for some much needed "non-mommy" time. Our waiter, Bryan was hilarious and helpful and the food nearly broke the table with its abundance (lots of leftovers guaranteed).

PF Chang's may not be authentic - my sister Molly never saw a lettuce wrap the entire time she lived in China- but I don't mind America takes on food. I never saw a "pizza" while I visited Italy, at least not the way we Americans make them..

P.F. Chang's has generously offered a $50 gift certificate to one of my readers! This is open to anyone in the United States. Simply leave a post here either telling me your favorite P.F. Chang's dish, or why you need a girls night out for yourself. (Or a guys night out. I don't discriminate.) For an extra entry, mention this giveaway on your own blog and tell me in separate comment. You can use the icon at the bottom of the post if you would like. For a third chance let me know that you are a subscriber or have my blog on your google reader, also in an addition comment. I will announce the random winner this Friday. Good Luck! Or as they say in China....Zhu ni hao yun!

Best of Chattanooga - Ladies Lunch

Even if you live in the Chattanooga area, you may have missed the opening of Beyond the Garden Gate at Streetside. It is the most lovely little tea room in downtown Ooltewah. Don't judge it by the website. The ladies who run the place may not be technically inclined, but they know exactly how to create a ladies haven. It is the perfect place for a baby shower, brunch with friends or a little girls birthday party. (They even have hats to wear for such events. ) White you are waiting to be seated (reservations recommended) - stroll through the charming little gift shop. But don't plan on finding anything to take home to your hubby. Everything feminine in this establishment.

Of course, let's not forget to mention the food! Everything dainty and delectable - the quiche is divine, the salads beautiful and the Provence tea is the BEST herbal tea I have ever tasted.

Jackie, the owner of this quaint tea room, has generously offered one lucky reader and guest a Magnolia Tea brunch . This brunch for two will include savories, scones, cream, jam and curd, sweets and your choice of tea. A $30 value. To enter simply comment on this blog letting me know who you would like to take with you if you win this giveaway. You MUST live in the Chattanooga area. I will choose the winner on Monday Sept 22. I will choose whichever comment I like the best! If you want to comment but don't live here, just mention that your comment is not for the giveaway.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Friday, September 12, 2008

I love NY Winner!

Well I'm off. I actually hear that it is cool in NY right now. Oh bliss.
I also can't wait to get to the city and do a little shopping for.......
Jennifer from Sugar Land, Texas!
Congrats! Email me ASAP your address, favorite color and your shirt size.
I will not be attempting to purchase pants. That is never a good idea.
Thanks for all of your entries. At almost 170 comments, this was a popular contest! I will be announcing two fantastic giveaways on Monday morning so make sure to check back...and if you are from the Chattanooga area make sure to head on over because one of those giveaways is just for you! No one local ever seems to wins my giveaways, so this time I am making sure one of you is going home with the prize.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

See! I told you this trade thing is the way to go!

I love trading product and now someone has come along to make it even easier! Check out Barter Boutique. You soooo know I am game!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

My Birthday

My birthday weekend was perfect. Friday Shane took me to the nicest restaurant in town. He looked hot, and I didn't look too bad myself. After a leisurely dinner we walked around downtown, making out when no one was around.

Saturday Shane told me that I needed to be out of the house for most of the day since he (and Lydia) would be working on my cake. In my mind I thought...um, how long does it take to make a cake? Of course when someone offers me a day to myself, I am not questioning. I went shopping, took myself to lunch, I even went to a chocolate store just to sample.

When I got home Shane rushed me past the kitchen so that he could finish the cake and told me to ...wait for it....blog for about an hour. Okay, if you insist.
I should have known that the cake was going to be a big deal. I however was not expecting this:

Shane actually went to the cake store, got new pans, dowels and 10 cartons of frosting. I love this photo of Lydia. She looks so proud at her efforts, which apparently was picking out the candy for the cake, stirring and then picking the candy back off the cake. Seriously, how awesome is this cake!?! I told Shane he was doing all of our kid's cakes in the future.
That night I went out with my friends for a little girl bonding. A little dinner, a little shopping, a little Starbucks. Yea, it was a pretty perfect weekend all around.

I really liked my friend Kristi's idea of doing a collage of all of her b-day gifts and celebrations. I have been informed by several people that my gifts will be here sometime in the next week, and I wanted to post about my b-day before I jet set off to NY. So don't feel bad if your gift isn't accounted for, maybe I will do a second collage....

Check out this apron that Kristi made Lydia! (Matches the one she made for me, see collage above) Isn't it adorable?! I am so excited to hear that she is going to start her own business making fantastic gifts of all kinds. Can't wait!

Thanks for everyone who sent birthday wishes! Sure know how to make a girl feel special :)

A random fashion tip: Every year my parents send me a check for my birthday to buy a new outfit. However, this year 600 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets were calling my name, leaving me very short for my birthday outfit. (Thanks for the sheets mom and dad! LOVE THEM!!!!)

To resolve this little problem, I went to target and found this shirt. $10! Then I went to Hobby Lobby and picked up a bit of sparkly sequin black fabric. ($2) I don't sew. I wrapped the fabric around my chest and pinned it to my bra. Now I had a cute flash of sparkle showing at my bust line and at the open back. (You can actually see the pin in the above photo. Oops!) I made myself some super sparkly earrings, grabbed my favorite dark jeans and heels and I was ready for a night out with the girls. For like $15. Nice.
Only a little over 350 days until my next birthday, can't wait!


Jennifer said...
Happy Birthday and I love the shirt idea. Ingenious! Your husband is amazing! Who's eating all that cake?!?!?
Natalie Jane said...
We have been giving it to anyone who comes to the door....
The Blaisdell Family said...
Happy Birthday. That cake kicks...well you know! It is simply awesome! What a great husband to spend all that time on a CAKE! And your little girl is gorgeous by the way!!!
The Beadles said...
WOW, you had a blast!! Awesome Birthday to you!!!
Are You Serious! said...
♥ Happy Birthday! LOVE the cake!!! What a great job! The apron is fantastic and love the shirt! :)
Bunny B said...
Woohoo!! Looks like you had a fantabulous time!!! Happy Birthday!!
just me (Angie) said...
This post has been removed by the author.
just me (Angie) said...
Happy Birthday, you look amazing and may I just say your husband is awesome to make you a cake especially a cake like that, he is very talented. you are going to be eating that for awhile.
Adam Archibald Family said...
Happy Birthday!!! Looks like you had a great time!!! That cake is HUGE. I'll bet they had a ball making it together and I loved the birhday song.
Jen R. said...
You have the most beautiful little girl I have ever seen. I can only say that because my girl is still a baby girl :) but seriously she is gorgeous. And I fell for your husband a little when I saw that cake. So glad you had a happy birthday. And I saw you on mormon mommy blogs...love the blog!
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