Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Home for Christmas

Christmas is one of my favorite holidays.  I love the decorations, the food,  being with friends and family, and most importantly we get to celebrate the birth of Jesus!  As I have gotten older, I realize just how special it is to be home for Christmas.  Since marrying my best friend two and a half years ago, we now both have two families and two places to go home to!  We were very blessed this year to be able to see both Daniel's family and mine. 

The weekend of the 16th and 17th we flew to Corpus Christi to celebrate with Daniel's family!  Matt, Daniel's brother got to come in from Austin and we all had a great time playing frisbee golf, looking at lights, playing cards, going out for some good Mexican food and just being together!  Mrs. Tammie, Daniel's mom cooked a wonderful Christmas meal and lots of yummy desserts!  She makes a wonderful raspberry cheesecake and checkerboard cake!  We definitely ate way too much in Corpus!

My sweet brother in law and hubby always seem to get me to try things I have never done before and this trip was no different!  While Daniel was doing some work, Matt got out his childhood dart gun and showed me how to shoot darts :)  I have to admit it was pretty fun!  Very different from the barbies I played with while growing up!

(Yes, it was warm enough for shorts in December)

After our trip to Corpus, we flew back to Nashville for Daniel to work a couple more days and then we drove to Hallsville (my hometown) on the 21st.  In case the name didn't give it away, I grew up in a very small town!  I loved growing up in Hallsville and am very proud of where I came from.  I wouldn't change a thing about my little town (well nothing except the raggedy gold and red wreaths with bells that they hang on the telephone and light poles downtown during Christmas with half of the light bulbs burnt out).  I love the effort but I think we need to spring for some new ones Hallsville!  (I will try to get a picture to show you in a later post.) 

On Friday night we went to Marshall where they were having the 25th Annual Wonderland of Lights.

 The world's largest rocking horse!
 The beautiful courthouse all lit up!  They had a light show synchronized to music every 30 minutes.
 Newly rennovated Hotel Marshall

On Christmas Eve, we always go to my grandparent's house with all of my dad's side of the family.  Usually we draw names and buy for one person, but this year we decided to do an ornament exchange and donate money to World Vision instead of doing gifts.  Our Christmas Eve tradition always includes pizza, yummy treats, and a prayer time where we gather in a circle and each one is given an opportunity to give thanks and lift up others in prayer.
 My sweet Grannie and Gran-Gran
 The Jones'
 The Morrison's
 Jones'/ Chambers'
Love my Grannie!

Sunday morning after church!
 Our third Christmas, time is flying!
 My Nannie, as sweet as sugar!
  My wonderful parents

After church on Christmas Day, mom and dad had everyone over for Christmas lunch!  We had over 30 people this year, one of the biggest groups in a long time!  It was so fun having everyone together!  And of course we had some great food!

 Cousins :)

I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas!  I would love to hear about some of your Christmas family traditions!  Leave a comment with your favorite!

Ashley :)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Throw a Fiesta + Photobooth for any Party

Like I said in an earlier post, we recently planned and hosted a going away party for our dear friends who are moving to Texas.  In the last couple of years our friend Lisa has grown to love Mexican food and we have had countless Mexican dinner nights so we decided to go with a Fiesta theme! 

The menu included:
Bean Dip
Chicken and Beef burritos
Chocolate/ Vanilla Sheet Cake

Food Table

Basket of koozies customized with:  "Welch's Mexican Fiesta 12-3-11"

Half Chocolate/ Half Vanilla Sheet Cake

Photobooths have become very popular and are always so much fun so we decided to set one up at the Fiesta!  They are quite simple and can be easily adjusted to go with any theme! 

1) First find a space big enough to hang a backdrop against the wall.  We used a section of my curtains I had made for one of my craft shows.  It was 3 yards long and about 90 inches wide but this can be adjusted according to what you like!  Any fabric, paper, bedsheet, or curtain will work!  We used thumbtacks to tack the fabric over the doorframe. 
2) Decide what props you want to use!  You can choose for them to go with your theme or they can be totally random!  For the fiesta we used the following props:
chalk boards and chalk to write messages

Simply put all of the props in a cute basket or bucket or lay them on a table for your guests to pick from!
3) Lastly set up your camera on a tripod and adjust the zoom and placement accordingly.  Let the fun begin!  This is a great way to entertain your guests while allowing them to participate and believe me, you will have some great photos from your party!  Here are some of ours:

Towards the end of the night, we presented Lisa and Jason with a little something to remember Nashville by: A Hatch Show Print Poster of Music City
If you are having a fiesta or are wanting to do a photobooth at a party you are throwing I hope this post will help you out!  Let me know if you do a photobooth or have done one, I would love to hear about it and see your pics!


Monday, December 12, 2011

The Roper's- Hope in the Midst of Suffering

Daniel and I have had the blessing and privilege of getting to know Maegan and Jeremy Roper over the past couple years. They are one of the sweetest, most genuine, and most compassionate couples I have ever met who are daily walking with God. God has used them countless times through their words and actions to speak truth into our lives. I want to share their story with you because in the midst of pain and suffering that they are experiencing, the Lord is bringing hope not just to them, but to people all over the world.

The Roper's were expecting their second child and almost two weeks ago went in to find out what they were having only to learn that their sweet baby girl had "the rarest and severest form of spina bifida called Anencephaly. It is a neural tube defect that causes the baby's skull and brain to stop developing, very early in fetal development." (from Maegan's blog). Maegan delivered baby Ellanie Beth on December 4 and watched her "drift into this world and drift out at the same time".

I cannot tell you how amazing this family is. They allow God to work in and through their lives in joyful times and in sorrowful times. They are one of the best examples I have ever seen of God's love and faithfulness.

Here is an excerpt from Maegan's blog of how their story is having an impact around the world:
"I had a woman contact me yesterday from south Africa... SOUTH AFRICA??! She lives in Cape Town and ministers to women there like myself, who face birthing children with fatal birth defects. She is a counselor in a local hospital that delivers these babies. Somehow, she read this blog and she said that she was going to use our story with the women she ministers to. She in return gave me words of wisdom & truth to cling to. I don't know why I am surprised. It seems that when the Lord's glory is at stake, He will go to great lengths in ensuring it is spread... to all nations. He is so much bigger than our circumstance."

I ask that you remeber them in this long road of healing to come and know that God can and will be glorified through the worst of circumstances. I also encourage you to visit Maegan's blog, A Different Remedy to read their story and see how God is working in their lives.

The Reason for the Season

I had no idea it had been two weeks since I last blogged!  December is quickly slipping by and there has been so much going on!  Even when my time is filled with good things it is easy to shift my focus from Christ and onto everything I have to acomplish.  This is an update of the past few weeks and and a reminder (which I'm reminding myself of daily) to find moments to be still even in the busy! 

Our Nashville Thanksgiving was wonderful this year!  We spent it with my parents who came in from Texas and our dear friends Lisa and Jason who are moving to Texas in less than a week. 

The following Tuesday I participated in an open house where I was able to sell some of my products and make some great contacts! 

Saturday, the 3rd we had a "Hello Houston" fiesta for Lisa and Jason because we all refuse to say goodbye.  It was a sweet time where our whole group of friends were able to get together to celebrate Jason and Lisa and fellowship.  I will do a seperate post on the party with an easy how-to for a photo booth you can set up at any party!

Last Monday and Tuesday I had a booth at the Green Hills YMCA Holiday Marketfest!  I met some great people and had a good couple days of sales!
A new necklace design by Claudie Belle Designs

This weekend, the hustle and bustle did not let up.  Friday night was Daniel's work Christmas party at the Wildhorse Saloon in downtown Nashville and Saturday and Sunday were spent celebrating Christmas with sweet friends!  Saturday morning, Lisa, our little hostess with the mostess put on a wonderful Brunch/Bunco/Ornament Exchange at her home for our group of girls!

In the midst of all the busyness especially during this time of year it is often a battle to slow down and keep Jesus in the center of our hearts!  I have really been convicted of that this year and it is my daily prayer to keep my eyes and focus on Him!  After all, He is the real reason for the season! 

Thank you for allowing me to catch up! 


Monday, November 28, 2011

Cyber Monday

First, I want to say welcome to all of the new followers to Claudie Belle Designs!  I am so happy to have you here!  Thank you for entering my giveaway over at Ginger Snap Crafts and good luck!  I hope everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving weekend with family and friends! 

We had a wonderful weekend with my parents who came to visit and our dear friends who joined us for Thanksgiving dinner!  We also got a little Black Friday shopping done which was a lot of fun!  We didn't do any of the crazy early hours, but the stores still had great deals Friday morning and the crowds were not too bad as some of the people who started shopping at midnight were heading home to nap!  I will have a Thanksgiving update post later today but I wanted to highlight a couple of Cyber Monday deals I thought you may be interested in! 

Living Social has a great Snapfish deal for $15 you can get $30 worth of products here and Snapfish is also having 50% off their photobooks.  Note: the photo book offer ends today!  These books make great gifts!  I have made a couple of them before! 

I am also offering a Cyber Monday deal in my Etsy shop for 20% off your total purchase!  Use the coupon code CYBERMONDAY during checkout to receive your discount! 

Did you find any great deals on Black Friday?  Tell us about them!


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Day Before Thanksgiving

Another year has come and gone and my how it has flown!  As Thanksgiving is just a day away, here is so much to be thankful for not just at this time of year but every day! 

I am thankful for my sweet hubby.
I am thankful for my family.
I am thankful for friends near and far.
I am thankful for our wonderful church home.
I am thankful for a roof over my head.
I am thankful for food to eat.
I am thankful for every small thing that is necessary to live that I so often take for granted.
I am most thankful for what Christ has done for us and the relationship He pursues with us!

This year is a Nashville Thanksgiving.  My parents are almost here, the hubs is off of work, and our great friends will be joining us for Thanksgiving dinner!  While we will definitely miss the rest of our family and friends, it is wonderful to have loved ones together!  I am going to be honest though, I am really going to miss my Grannie's chocolate pie and my Nannie and Grannie's stuffing!  While it probably won't come close to Grannie, I am going to attempt her Chocolate Pie recipe!  Stay tuned to see how it turns out!  And I can't wait to taste what our friend's Lisa and Jason bring!  Lisa is a cajun cooking queen and always makes the best dishes! 

Also, coming up this week Ginger Snap Crafts is hosting a giveaway for one of my distressed frames on her blog this Friday, November 25th!  Check out her blog Friday to enter! 

I am also participating in I Heart Nap Time's  Crazy Christmas Shopping event from Friday to Sunday the 25th-27th!  Check it out to get a discount code for my etsy shop! 

I pray that you all have a happy Thanksgiving and soak up every minute with family and friends!  What are your favorite Thanksgiving dishes??

Ashley :)

Friday, November 18, 2011

You're Invited! Christmas Open House

It's Friday again and we are less than a week away from Thanksgiving!  I am so excited to spend time with our family!  But before Thanksgiving I have some work to do to get ready for my first open house that I am having November 29th. 

If you are in the Nashville area this event is open to anyone and everyone!  This is a great opportunity to get some of that Christmas shopping done by buying local and handmade. We are going to have gifts for all ages including accessories, home decor, personalized monogramming, jewelry, baby items, children's items and much more! A portion of the profits will go to World Vision, an organization that works worldwide to tackle the causes of poverty and injustice.

This is a come and go event and snacks will be served! There will also be some great drawings for giveaways!

Even if you are ahead of the game and have all of your shopping done, feel free to stop by and hang out!


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wanting vs. Wishing

Daniel and I have been so blessed in finding such a wonderful church here in Nashville that has truly become our home away from home!  God is clearly at work at Brentwood Baptist and He constantly uses our pastor, ministers, and people there to speak truth into our lives. 

This past Sunday, Pastor Mike spoke on a subject that has become a theme that I think the Lord is really trying to get me to get!  I'm so thankful He is patient with me and doesn't give up on me!  The theme I am talking about is the active part of faith i.e. actively seeking, actively waiting, and the list goes on.  Sounds easy, but time after time I get to a point of frustration because I'm not where I want to be in my relationship with Christ, I'm not exactly where I want to be in a career path, and even down to little things like not being a great housekeeper or not being motivated for certain things.  Every time I get frustrated, God seems to put someone or something in my path that tells me that I CAN do something about changing my situation.  So often, I just cruise through life expecting all these big things to happen that I haven't put the time in for and I'm finally really beginning to see that it just doesn't happen that way. 

Pastor Mike opened this topic of wanting vs. wishing with this illustration:
In the game of golf, you don't laugh when someone makes a bad shot, it just isn't polite and everyone has bad shots now and then. 
He and his son were playing golf and he got up to the tee box and hit a horrible shot and his son burst into laughter.  Mike said, "why are you laughing like that?"  The son replied, " You don't do anything in your swing to make the ball go where you want it to, you just get up there and wish." 

A lot of times we say we want something, but our lives don't show that we want it because we don't do anything to get there.  We settle into wishing that things will happen instead of actively working for what we want.  At the end of the message, Mike posed the question, "If we find what we want, are we willing to pay the price to get it?" 

This reminds me of the quote, "Anything worth having is worth fighting for."  And what more important thing is there to fight for than being close to Christ? 

Are you wanting or wishing today??

Ashley :)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Asheville, NC


Good morning!  I hope each and every one of you had a wonderful and blessed weekend!  My post on Friday reminded me that I never posted on our weekend in Asheville, NC a few weeks ago.  Daniel's parents planned a trip up our way to see the beautiful changing leaves and boy did they pick a great time to come!  Daniel and I met them in Asheville for a few days and here is a little overview of that weekend!
After we met up with The Chambers' on Saturday we drove into Winston-Salem, NC where Daniel's dad was getting some work done to his truck.  I have some relatives there so I was really happy we got to stop in and see them!  This is my cousin Earl and his two sweet sons and my mom's cousin, Pat who is like an Aunt to me!

Sunday we drove around taking in the beautiful scenery and went to an apple orchard in Asheville, NC.

 Picking apples at an orchard

The hubs looking for some good ones!

On Monday, we toured the house and grounds at the Biltmore!  I have been wanting to do this for years and it was worth every penny!
  The house is just unbelievable and the tour inside took about 3 hours!

 Tammie and I walking through the gardens and laughing about who knows what :)

My handsome hubby and I

The morning before we had to head back to Nashville, we did a little hiking and went to the Billy Graham Training Facility called The Cove.

The beautiful chapel at The Cove

Scripture painted in the prayer room in the chapel

We thouroughly enjoyed our time spent in Asheville!  It is such a beautiful place with a lot to do, but most importantly it was wonderful to spend time with our family! 

Thanks for reading!
Ashley :)