Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Visiting Ace at Doggie School

Ace, our black lab puppy has gotten REALLY BIG already.  As all puppies are, he is full of energy and likes to jump and play a lot.  There's only one problem with that...He doesn't realize his size and when he jumps, sometimes it hurts.  So, like Simba, our yellow lab who passed away a few years ago, off to school it was for Ace!

Ace will not only be a pet but also a duck hunting dog for Hubby.  Either way,  he needs to learn a little obedience.  However, finding the right trainer is important.  We wanted one who only trains a puppy in stages.  Ace will be at school for a couple months and then come home for a while before he goes back again.  This is so that he keeps his relationship with us.  The other thing that was important to us was to have a trainer who is gentle with the dog.  Our trainer is just that!  Yes, he is teaching Ace obedience by responding to hand signals and voice commands but he is just so patient with him.  The day after we took him to school, he called to let us know that Ace had done well overnight and that all of the dogs he trains are kept in separate kennels inside a heated and air conditioned building.  WOW...he will be spoiled by the time he gets home!

Last week, Hubby stopped by to watch him train a little bit, having been at school for a month already.  He told me how good he was doing and sent me a couple of photos of him.  But I got a nice surprise on Saturday, when on our way home from Baton Rouge, he decided to swing by and let me see Ace myself!
                                            Here's Ace showing Robby how he can fetch now.

Having grown so much that he outgrew his collar, we stopped at a little store on our way there and bought him a brand new red one...a Christmas present of sorts.  Whenever we arrived and the trainer let him out, Ace was SO EXCITED to see us that he ran all over the place.  Soon enough, however, he settled right down and showed me all of the tricks he had been learning.  I was even able to tell him to "sit" while using a hand signal and he obeyed me!

We played for a while and I got Hubby to take a few pictures of me with Ace before we left.  I can't wait to have him back home around the middle of January!
                                                             "Look, Mom...I can sit!"

Although we miss having him at home, we know that Ace is in good hands...
                                                                    See ya in a month!

Monday, December 15, 2014

A Christmas Wedding in the South

I originally wanted a December wedding, myself.  That didn't work out and we ended up getting married in May.  Which for our family is just as busy as the Christmas season.  However, if there is anything that could come in second to Christmas for me, it would be a wedding.  And a CHRISTMAS WEDDING?!  STOP.  I love this idea way too much!

The wedding we attended this past weekend was not actually ON Christmas but it was close enough to Christmas for me to classify it as a "Christmas Wedding".  My friend (and workout coach), Karol's, oldest daughter got married in Baton Rouge and being only a couple of hours away, we decided what better way to spend a Friday night than helping her celebrate the nuptials.

The wedding ceremony, a traditional catholic one, was absolutely beautiful.  The music was lovely.  The bridesmaids all wore floor length gowns in shades of gold; none were alike.  That, I really liked.  Some were beaded, some were not but all, I'm sure reflected the young women's personalities.  When the bride came down the aisle, I, of course, noticed her beautiful gown and veil, however, what I really liked was the fact that she was wearing a deep red lipstick.  How striking this bride was with her dark brown hair and those red lips.  After the ceremony we set off for the reception.  I love wedding receptions for here is where the bride can really show off her style preferences.

The reception was held at White Oak Plantation owned by Chef John Folse.  From the moment we drove up, I knew that this wedding reception was one I had to share with my readers. what we drove up to.  And when I became very excited and super happy I had decided to charge my cell phone battery.  I was definitely going to be taking some photos.
        I didn't get a great picture of the car the couple drove, but it was a white, vintage Bentley.
When we entered the house, I snapped this photo of the bride because I know how busy brides are at receptions and I knew that I might not get another chance to get a photo of her.
I loved the fact that there were so many beautiful antique pieces of furniture in the house being used to display items for the reception.
And with a Christmas wedding, of course, there were several Christmas trees on display.  This one was in the main sitting room upon entering the house.  It was where the cakes, dessert bar and coffee bar would later be displayed.
                                     Behind the staircase was a table for presents and cards.
                   A breezeway connected the main house to the reception hall and grounds.
The outdoor seating was beautifully set up around old, brick fireplaces that were cozy on this cool night and set the mood perfectly for a Christmas wedding in the south.
 The tables outside were decorated simply with white table cloths and candle light that had a vintage feel.

                                          Food service tables could be found inside and out.
                                                                   Along with a bar.
 Upon entering the main reception hall, guests had the opportunity to help the new couple make memories by taking a white ornament and writing their name with a gold pen on it and placing it on a Christmas tree.
 Hubby and I were lucky enough to secure a table inside and from there I moved about throughout the evening snapping photos.  The tables inside held these lovely flower arrangements.
Another Christmas tree could be found in the corner of the room and look at that black and white tile floor.
We made our way back up to the front of the house where the wedding cake had been cut and other desserts and drinks were being offered.
Keeping with the theme of gold, the Bride's Cake was simple and elegant with each layer being a different flavor.
           The groom's cake, a King Cake, sat among other desserts on a table across the room.
I loved the many little canvases with quotes placed strategically throughout the reception that were also in keeping with the gold theme of the wedding.
                                Next, was one of my favorite things...This hot beverage bar.
Set upon an antique buffet, covered with a white table cloth, this bar had beautiful silver pots that served the hot beverages and crystal martini glasses that held the condiments.

As the evening came to a close, I was really happy that this sweet couple had invited us to attend their wedding.  It was beautiful, elegant and a magical event that was just perfect in every way for this time of the year.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Baby Watch and Baby Number 5 Has a Name

Did you forget?  We are expecting Grand Number 4, Lila Kate on Christmas Eve!  And with the event this close, we are all  preparing for a baby to come at any time.  Sarah has the nursery ready and all of our Christmas shopping is about complete.  And, as Hubby says, I am speed knitting.  He has brought the fact to my attention that the more anxious I become, the faster I knit.  And that actually may be true.  In the last couple of weeks I knitted Lila Kate two hats, knitted a friend's grand baby three hats and almost finished Grand Number 5's blanket!

Up until now, I haven't really thought about how close it was to Lila Kate's arrival.  Oh, we have been seeing Sarah several times a week and watching her belly grow but all of a sudden...It's almost time!  And I have suddenly gotten really excited about welcoming a new baby into our Big, Fat, Southern Family.

While together last weekend, I asked the two girls to take a picture together for me...Belly to belly, of course!

                                                                   How cute it this?!
Sarah is on the right, showing off Lila Kate, who is just about ready to make her entrance and on the left is Allison.  She is due March the 8th and up until now we have been referring to this baby as "Number 5" (as in Grand Baby number 5).  However, they have finally settled on a name and I LOVE it!  "Olivia Ryan".  She is being named after Allison's father, whose name is Ollie and her own daddy, Ryan.

Now, we just WAIT.  I'm just waiting for that call that says Lila Kate is on her way.  Our little Christmas Baby!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

There's Nothing Like a Southern Christmas

While at a Christmas get together Saturday, a friend and I were discussing how southerners just know how to do Christmas right.  She had spent Christmas last year with one of her children in Los Angeles and although they celebrated the holiday, it just wasn't the same as Christmas in the south.

We southerners like to really do it up for Christmas.  We decorate not only our homes but ourselves as well for the entire month of December.  And the first weekend of EVERY December, you can find us at our lake house in Natchitoches, Louisiana to celebrate the Festival of Lights.
          Yep...Imagine this.  It is the view from our lake house.  Beautiful, isn't it?  Peaceful too.

Natchitoches is a great little historic town that has festivals all year round, centered around Cane River Lake.  Each Saturday in December there is an awesome fireworks display in the town, however, that first weekend is when the big parade can be seen and our friends have pretty much an open door party at their home.  When I say open door, I mean people literally come in and out all day long, eating, visiting and just generally having a good time.  My daughter-in-law, Allison calls it the "Christmas House".

I suppose this "open house" came about because pretty much everybody knows everybody here and with the house being within walking distance of the parade and town, itself, it makes for the perfect spot for people to meet.  And, of course, there is SO MUCH FOOD being constantly put out...who even needs to worry with restaurant reservations that day?

This year, Justin and Ryan and their families joined us for the Christmas Festival and, as usual, we had a great time.  I took as many photos as I could to show y'all how we do Christmas here in the south!

 Yes...Even the bathrooms are decorated!
                                                       And then it was PARADE TIME!
                                         Parker Ann had the BEST seat for parade watching.
                                                                  YAY!!!  It's SANTA.
 Then it was time to go back and wait for the fireworks display.  Parker Ann found a new friend that day.  They were inseparable.
            The children all sat on the bottom part of the boat dock to watch the fireworks.
                                                This fireworks display never disappoints!
                                                    And "The City of Lights" is now lit.
However, as we got ready to leave, I could not resist snapping a shot of the boats sitting out on the river, moonlight peeking from the clouds.
THIS is what a southern Christmas is all about.  Family, friends, good food. traditions,  an open door where everyone knows everyone.  And a front porch for sitting, drinking hot chocolate, sweet tea or coffee, while visiting with your neighbors.  THAT'S the south.  And I wouldn't want to live anywhere else.