For Auld Lang Syne

It may be because of my bias, but I think that a New Year's Eve wedding shared with your closest family and friends might be the most perfect way to ring in both the coming year and the new chapter in your life.

With a gold and white color scheme, this inspiration board feels perfectly suited for the holiday, and it could also easily translate into a regular New Year's Eve bash as well.

Row 1: Jose Villa, Andre Niesing via Style Me Pretty, Anna Williams
Row 2: Fuss Jewelry, J.Crew, Laura Negri Photography via Southern Weddings
Row 3: Brides, Chris Everard, J.Crew
Row 4: Julie & Jay- Jose Villa, Ashley Garmon Photography via
Once Wed

Honey Put On That Party Dress...

I love New Year's Eve, although I may be partial to the holiday as it is also my birthday. While I have heard time and again that New Year's Eve is always a let-down and simply doesn't live up to the hype, I can't help but love that my birthday falls on a day of celebration around the world.

I also love that it is always a wonderful excuse to don a lovely party dress, and all of these numbers are ones I'd love to throw on tonight!

For a little bow action...

For a bit of sparkle...


Can't forget the ruffles...

Throw some jewel-toned satin in the mix...

And, it's a tough call, but what I think just might be my favorite...

Of course, I would love to throw this black beauty over any of them to help keep me warm.

Do you have a favorite? What style party dress would you most love to throw on to ring in the new year?

Holiday Traditions {Under A Paper Moon}

I hope that everyone had a very wonderful and Merry Christmas! I'm a bit behind on posting this, but due to my unpreparedness this year, Christmas Eve day was a blur. I raced around doing last minute shopping for stockings and making preparations for Christmas dinner; I have never before been in a store as it CLOSES on Christmas Eve, but I was this year! Done just in the nick of time.

I am thrilled that everyone loved reading the Holiday Traditions series as much as I did. And since you asked (or, well, Blair and Courtney did...) here are my Holiday Traditions.

The Tree- December 2008

What were your family's holiday traditions when you were younger? What was a typical Christmas Eve/Christmas Day for your family?

We started the countdown to Christmas by lighting our advent wreath every night at dinner. I was ecstatic by the time we reached the pink candle, not only because I loved pink, but because it finally felt like I could see Christmas on the horizon.

We always attended afternoon mass on Christmas Eve; we would have a low-key meal (chili, etc.) that evening and then would open our family gifts; we always opened in order of youngest to oldest.

When we woke on Christmas morning, the first thing we did was grab our stockings from the banister. We would open the stockings on the staircase as we waited for my dad to set up the video camera. When my dad was ready (which felt like forever at times!) we were then allowed into the family room to see our presents from Santa. Santa's gift were always very artfully displayed (not wrapped) and my two brothers and I each had our own areas where our presents would be placed.

Christmas breakfast consisted then, as now, of my mom's popovers. Later in the day, we would enjoy our big Christmas meal.

Christmas 1988

Did you/do you leave treats for Santa? If so, what were/are they?

We always left a sweet treat, usually cornflake wreaths, and orange juice for Santa; my mom, like my brothers and I, is allergic to milk, but it never seemed strange to me that we left orange juice. I think my parents told us that Santa got tired of always having to drink milk, and I never questioned that. And, of course, we always left carrots for the reindeer.

My parents played the roll of Santa well; in the mornings, we would find nibbled traces of carrots left by the reindeer and a note from Santa. My mom recently told me that when I started to get suspicious of the handwriting on the notes (my mom's,) our neighbor began writing them instead.

Have your family traditions changed since you've gotten older?

They have changed as we have gotten older, although there are many things that have stayed the same too. When my parents moved to Tennessee about 11 years ago, we, for the first time in in fifteen years, ended up living in the same city as relatives. Our holidays changed as we incorporated my aunt and uncle's family into our celebration.

We began hosting my cousins, aunt, uncle, and occasional family friends for Christmas Eve dinner at our house, which replaced our big meal on Christmas Day. We also began attending midnight mass once my youngest brother was old enough, and that is perhaps my most favorite change in our traditions.

My family still tries to exchange our family gifts on Christmas Eve, mostly at my youngest brother's and my insistence, but it doesn't happen every year now. Santa still comes on Christmas Day, although for the last five years my mom has been declaring that we are far too old to continue this tradition.

I was in college when it dawned on me that it was rather unfair my parents didn't receive gifts from Santa (because family gifts were opened on Christmas Eve,) so since that time, my brothers and I (and for the last number of years E) have been playing Santa to them.

Presents under the tree- December 2008. Please excuse the concrete floors; we recently tore out our carpeting and are getting ready to re-floor.

Have you implemented your own traditions into your life since you've gotten older?

Not really yet. Since high school, I have driven around to look at Christmas lights each year- sometimes with my friends or brothers, and it is something E and I have done during the Christmases we've been able to spend together. A few years ago, E and I discovered a house in the area where we lived that we refer to as "The Crazy Light House." We took my family there when they came to visit that year, and when we were "home" two weekends ago, we made a point to drive by the house!

I imagine that implementing our own traditions into the holiday will continue to evolve in the coming years.

December 2006- My youngest brother and me at "The Crazy Light House"

Have you ever gone caroling?

When I was in ninth grade, the entire group of girls that hung around together (something like around 30 of us...) held a big holiday gift exchange. After we had opened our gifts, we decided to go caroling. I think being amongst such a large group gave everyone more confidence to sing to complete strangers.

Also, for a reason I can absolutely not remember now, I went caroling with the other girls on my cheerleading squad (err, yep... cheerleader here.) All I do remember was caroling on the front porch of my crush's house and nearly passing out when his mom told us to wait because she wanted to get him to listen to us.

What foods do you feel are must haves during the holiday season?

I always love and crave peppermint during the holidays- peppermint bark, peppermint mocha lattes, and peppermint ice cream (although I haven't had any in years!) all feed that craving. Other must haves are spiced nuts, cornflake wreaths, and other homemade goodies. And, every year, it puts me in the best mood to see Starbucks' red holiday cups.

What does a traditional Christmas meal include for you?

For our Christmas meal pork tenderloin or turkey, roasted or mashed potatoes, glazed carrots, and cranberry salad are staples, but we always have different side dishes and desserts that make it into the rotation.

What is your Christmas decorating style?

I always fall in love with different schemes and styles each year! I do love metallics in holiday decor, so it's probably not surprising that my tree is decorated in silver, gold, and bronze (as well as shades of green and white.) My favorite ornaments are those that glitter, sparkle and reflect light, as well as the ones that hold special memories. I still believe there's not much better than falling asleep next to a lit and softly glowing Christmas tree.

White lights or colored lights?

I absolutely love white lights, but I have a fondness for colored lights as well; they remind me of being little. I thought they were absolutely the most beautiful things, and I was so resistant when my mom decided to switch to white on our tree!

What is one holiday-related event that you must do during the holiday season?

While there are always many things I want do during the holiday season (and never is there enough time to do them all,) driving around to look at Christmas lights is the one thing that I absolutely must do every year.

Me & E at "The Crazy Light House"- December 2006

Do you have a favorite holiday memory?

Hmmm, this really is a tough one because there are so many. But, I must say one of my very favorite Christmases was in 2006. E and I had just married in October of that year, and he immediately left for three months of training before his deployment in January of '07. Luckily, he was given holiday leave, and he came home for our first married Christmas.

His dad and stepmom, as well as my parents and brothers, came to Texas to celebrate with us. E's mom and sister came too, a few days after Christmas, to share a belated holiday. I don't remember much of the gifts that were given or all the food that we ate, but the thing that still lingers with me is a feeling of contented peace.

We did traditions differently that year, in part due to the blending of two families celebrations and in part because of the timing of things, but it felt like the most perfect Christmas. I still can picture just the way the house looked, filled with people we love, and I remember feeling almost overwhelmed by the happiness I felt. Not only were we able to celebrate that first Christmas together, at our house, but we were able to celebrate with both our families.

Complete this sentence- "It wouldn't be Christmas for me without..."

family, holiday music and lights!


Thanks to Kimberlee, Tina, Stephanie, Cassandra, Blair, and Courtney for participating in this series and sharing their Holiday Traditions with us. If you missed any of their interviews, be sure to check them out here.

Thank you to all of your for reading too, and I hope to have a another round of interviews with more bloggers next year. I will be around this next week, but posting will likely be sporadic as I spend time with family for the next few days. Enjoy your time with family and friends this holiday season as well!

Snap! and Chat with Joyce at Stoneblossom Florals

This is the first of our new snap! and chat series, where we get to know all of the fabulous people that we work with all year... florists, caterers, dj's, coordinators etc. etc.
We thought it would be fun to bring you a little "inside information" on some of the best in the biz! No surprise that we start our series with the lovely and talented Joyce Holland of Stoneblossom Florals.
We are long time admirers of Joyce, not only is she an amazing artist- but she is also kicks butt as a business owner. We have often considered WWJD (what would Joyce do?) when making decisions for our own business.
Let's go in and see what she's up to...

Here's the inside of Joyce's meeting space, which she recently renovated. It's very cozy and appealing. Did you know that before Joyce started her floral business she worked in Interior Design? She attributes this background to the way she approaches an event now... she designs "from the ground up," meaning she visualizes the event as a whole... linens, lighting, place settings etc... before she designs the flowers.

Fun fact about me (Mariah)... I went to school for journalism. Here I am as a hard hitting reporter!

Joyce's favorite part about her job? ... her clients! I asked her what inspires her most and she said... "The essence of the person in front of me! I try to really get to know that person, and understand what they like and don't like. On the production floor we take that inspiration and run with it!"

The most satisfying thing about her job? "I do love the initial consultation, because I love to get to know people... but my favorite moments are on the 'day of' when I deliver the bouquet or they see their venue decorated for the first time and I know they really love it. "

What are a florists favorite flowers you might wonder...

"The sweetest flowers are in the spring, I love Peonies, Renunculas, and Lilly of the Valley. I really love the sweet, petite flowers... and also the flowering branches.
My other favorite time of year is the fall. The flowers of that season are rustic and hardy. I love vines, berries and the muted colors in oranges and golds."

Recently, Joyce's amazing work is featured in a new hardcover coffee table book by Sylvia Weinstock called, Amazing Cakes. The photo on the right is from her highlighted event at Rosecliff Mansion in Newport.

Joyce's familiar brand... and lovely letterpress business card. See more of her fabulous work by clicking here: Stoneblossom

Stay tuned next week for another installment of Snap! and chat....
Joyce, thanks for your time and candid remarks! We look forward to seeing you this summer on the circuit!

Have a Happy Holiday!

Holiday Traditions {In(side) the Loop}

Our last guest in the Holiday Traditions series this year is the incredibly genuine and oh-so-stylish Courtney, the gal behind the always fabulous blog In(side) the Loop.

Christmas 1982- 16 months

What were your family's holiday traditions when you were younger? What was a typical Christmas Eve/Christmas Day for your family?

Christmas Eve is a big deal in our house! We start with evening mass and afterwards my parents host a massive party. Lots of food, laughter, dancing, and incriminating secrets from younger years are spilled that most often my parents never knew of. This typically occurs after a few cocktails made with Dad's homemade pineapple-infused vodka! The party lasts until the wee hours, and I love that grade school friends still drop in to catch up on the past year.

My brother gave us those "smitten mittens," and we got the biggest kick out of them!

Christmas Day starts with Irish Cream coffees [served in specific vintage glassware] and Dad's hashbrowns, and then lots of unwrapping. We try to start with opening one gift at a time, but always end in sea of wrapping paper being torn to shreds as everyone shrieks and yells with giddiness.

My embroidered towels that Mom did on her machine for us. And the old wire park trashcan they came in-- probably my favorite gift ever.

Did you/do you leave treats for Santa? If so, what were/are they?

Always traditional with cookies and milk, but we'd also leave food outside for the reindeer. On a side note: my parents were the ultimate masters at the entire act of Christmas. They would stamp boot prints in the fireplace ash, leave reindeer "pebbles" in the grass and shake jingle bells from the woods to make us think Santa was parking his sleight. All of this had me "believing" well over the accepted age limit...

Have your family traditions changed since you've gotten older?

Not at all really. They still involve family, doing for others, and reflecting on the real reason for Christmas.

Have you implemented your own traditions into your life since you've gotten older?

Absolutely. Christmas music is always on, we put lots of thought into our cards each year, and finding the PERFECT present for others is paramount. We start super early and can not wait to give people their gifts. We always do something homemade [this year we used my grandmother's Amaretto recipe] for neighbors and co-workers. And we also start preparing for the coming year and how we want to better ourselves. It's definitely a time for growth and reflection in our household.

Have you ever gone caroling?

Oh goodness, no. I can't carry a note in a bucket! Although I do sing Christmas songs around the house and in my car as though I have the voice of Judy Garland.

What foods do you feel are must haves during the holiday season?

Anything homemade. My family loves to cook, so I just look forward to things people have put a lot of time and love into making... and it helps that it's ALWAYS delicious! That said, we aren't bakers. So we'll have a table full of amazing food and then one puny pie on a table way off to the side. My husband's family is the opposite, pies and sweets on the main table and then a handful of savory dishes for the "filler foods." It's a fun balance to visit the two homes!

What does a traditional Christmas meal include for you?

Dad's pepper roast and Mom's ham. And always something Lebanese.

What is your Christmas decorating style?

It changes every year! This year I'm really into the big C7 colored bulbs and vintage ornaments. I went overboard with fresh, hand-tied garland everywhere and toy soldier blowmold figures lurking in a few corners of the house. Last year, it was all about white twinkle lights and mercury glass. Who knows what I'll be itching for next year and, luckily for me, my husband's idol is Clark Griswold. I never worry about lighting the exterior; it's always done to perfection!

My mom on her bicycle in front of their house. My grandmother also hand-tied her garland, which you can see hanging over their door.

White lights or colored lights?

I'm one for variety, so I think both have their place during Christmas!

What is one holiday-related event that you must do during the holiday season?

Driving around looking at Christmas lights, generally with the dog in tow. Warm cups of homemade hot coco in hand and everyone telling the driver to "slow down because 15 mph is WAY too fast" to take in all the goodness!

Do you have a favorite holiday memory?

It's a toss up between my siblings shocking the heck out of one another with silver tinsel and my grandmother's nativity scene. She would spend hours outside making sure everything was just so and spreading the hay around the wooden stable that housed the pieces. I inherited an amazing nativity set from my Uncle, a priest and antiques dealer, and it means the world to me. I definitely see this being a Christmas tradition in my own house from here on. But the tinsel wars are kinda hard to top [... and don't think you can do this with today's "faux tinsel" either. You need the good old stuff that's thin and electric!]

Complete this sentence- "It wouldn't be Christmas for me without..."

a real tree.


Courtney- thank you for sharing your holiday memories and traditions with us! Your Christmas Eve traditions sound like enviable ones! I love that your parents put so much effort into making you and your siblings "believe," even if their actions led you to believe longer than most. And, really, shouldn't we all wish to still believe wholeheartedly in the magic of the season?

More Deluxe Albums!

We just got a few more albums in today and wanted to share with you. These are our deluxe silk covered albums which come with a presentation box in the same fabric and an accent ribbon. They are really beautiful! So if you are looking for something special, this is the ticket...

All of our albums have 'flush mount' pages which means that the photos are all printed on one page and then that print (on real photo paper) is mounted flush to all the edges.

The flush mounted album should not be confused with a 'coffe table book'. A coffee table book is printed on different kinds of paper, but not actual photo paper. The pages are available in different kinds of thincknesses but most often are like a really thick card stock. There are always new albums coming out so this description probably has a lot of variables nowadays.

We have also had a lot of canvas prints coming in, it's so fun to open the boxes when these arrive.
I want to have every photo on canvas, they just look so cool! This one is for Leah and Matt, I loved that they picked a more artictic photo for their wall. It's very moody.

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