Rustic Chic Baby Shower

Elizabeths Baby Shower (3)This past weekend our family celebrated something wonderful {well, we've actually been celebrating for months but on Sunday we went all out}! My daughter Elizabeth and her husband Jon are expecting their first baby in January. Her sisters and I couldn't wait to plan the shower. In fact, the minute we found out they were expecting we were on it. It's who we are. Planning parties is my favorite thing to do and my daughters are right there with me. It was a beautiful shower and a fabulous day so we wanted to share it with you.

Elizabeths Baby Shower (13)We chose a unique location at Historic Acres of Hershey. The venue was once a working farmland and is home to an Antique Mall that has been in existence for over 20 years. The Coop was the perfect setting for our Rustic Chic themed baby shower.

Elizabeths Baby Shower (4)The bright yellow doors were a wonderful welcome into this adorable building. The antique wood floors, exposed wood beams and scattered chandeliers had me at hello.

Elizabeths Baby Shower (6)Elizabeth and Jon live in Alaska (I know, let's not go there) so we wanted to keep the theme clean, fresh and earthy to mirror the life they are living. The gender of the baby had not been revealed so we decided to keep the decor all white with touches of green. The tables were covered with Staccato linens  and topped with beautiful fresh flower arrangements that included succulents, a personal favorite.

Elizabeths Baby Shower (7)We added a non-traditional touch by placing gilded woodland animals (reminiscent of Alaska) around the tables along with potted succulent favors for the guests.

Elizabeths Baby Shower (10)A sweets table was a must and all white was the theme here as well. Pretty little paper bags were placed on the table so guests could take home their treats.

Elizabeths Baby Shower (9)This simple white cake was the highlight of the dessert table. I think we all fell in love with the adorable handmade bear topper that Kyrsten of Kyrsten's Sweet Designs created especially for Elizabeth.

Elizabeths Baby Shower (5)A clothesline full of onesies added the baby element to the shower and was the focal point over the buffet.

Elizabeths Baby Shower (11)In order to stick with a simple, clean look we opted for neutral colored baby clothes and added handmade fabric tassels to the onesie garland. I'm in love with this look!

Elizabeths Baby Shower (12)Pink or blue drink stirrers were a fun way for guests to share their opinion on whether the baby was a boy or girl.... most people chose blue!

Elizabeths Baby Shower (1)Shower games seem silly at times but offering them as an option creates an element of fun and sparks conversation. This game gave the guests a chance to guess how big Elizabeth's baby bump was. It was a huge hit!

Elizabeths Baby Shower (2)The Price is Right guessing game was a hit as well, mostly with moms who know all too well what it costs to shop for a baby!

Elizabeths Baby Shower (14)The absolute most favorite moment and highlight of the day was when Elizabeth surprised her guests as she opened a huge package (supposedly from Jon) that released pink helium balloons revealing that their little bundle was indeed a girl. Words just cannot express the joy that filled that room. It was truly one of the most exciting things I have ever witnessed. I had the privilege of helping with the surprise so to have the opportunity to sit back and watch the reaction was awesome!

Elizabeths Baby Shower (16)Elizabeth loves s'mores so we decided to set up a s'more bar for the guests outside on the patio.

Elizabeths Baby Shower (15)We got the men in the family involved and asked Elizabeth's dad and brother Michael to create a table top version of a fire pit to keep things simple. It was a huge hit with no mess and easy clean up!

Elizabeths Baby Shower (8)It was a fabulous day and these girls made it happen. I am truly blessed to not only have 3 amazing daughters (and a very talented son) but to have the most wonderful family and friends to share these special moments. Life is so much better when you are giving so find what makes you happy and share it with someone.

Celebrate the little things and find the joy in everything. It's what makes life so worthwhile!

Enjoy the day,

Leslie xo

 Photo Credit- Doug Reese, Leslie Reese

*A special thanks to Doug Reese Photo for the use of his photos.

Favorite Things

Emerson Turns ONE!Emerson's First Birthday Party (9)Hello! Yes, it's me! I'm actually posting something! And yes, it's been months...too many months but hey, better late than never right? I figured it doesn't need to be all or nothing and as inconsistent as it is, I refuse to give up the blog! So, if I have something to share and if I can find the time, you will see a post! Look at it as a little surprise in your day!

So while we're on the subject of surprises and celebrations, I thought I would share a very special first birthday party with you. My sweet little granddaughter Emerson turned one in May and her very creative mommy planned a party to remember! You know I absolutely love parties and this one was as cute as they get!  It was a celebration fit for a little princess with pretty flowers, pink and gold accents, girly party food and a chandelier....because every birthday girl needs her own chandelier! I'm sharing some of my favorite photos from the day. Happy Friday!

First Birthday Party via Pretty tables topped with Gold Chevron, a sprinkle of Metallic Confetti  and Pink Peonies.

Emerson's First Birthday Party (1)Satin Ribbon in shades of Pink and Gold Glitter tied loosely around Emerson's birthday chair.

Emerson's First Birthday PartyWooden letters O N E and a petite chandelier to decorate the birthday table.

Emerson's First Birthday Party (11)Pink Lemonade and Strawberry flavored water station.

Emerson's First Birthday Party (15)Gold Stripe and Pink Polka Dot straws.

Emerson's First Birthday Party (5)The food was designed around small bites. The Yogurt Bar was my personal favorite.

Emerson's First Birthday Party (4)Mini Smoothie Shots topped with Raspberries.

Emerson's First Birthday Party (3)Heart shaped Peanut Butter & Jelly/Marshmallow Sandwiches ~ A birthday girl favorite.

Emerson's First Birthday Party (10)A Pink and Gold Birthday Cake by Kyrsten's Sweet Designs ~ Perfection!

Emerson's First Birthday Party (7)Of course Emerson had her very own cake!

Emerson's First Birthday Party (8)This very serious Birthday Girl was rather cautious with her cake. If you could only see her view! There was quite a crowd watching her (should have captured that pic!).

Emerson's First Birthday Party (6)Pink Chevron and Gold Goody Bags ~ Filled with candy of course.

Emerson's First Birthday Party (13)A truly special day for a happy little birthday girl!

What a wonderful time we all had! It was so much fun to watch the wonder in Emerson's eyes as we ooohhhed and ahhhhed over her first birthday celebration. This is a great life and I'm happy to be living it!  And I am especially grateful to have the opportunity to be a part of these fun times! I hope you are all having a beautiful summer and enjoying the special times that are happening now with your family and friends! Have a wonderful weekend!

Leslie xo

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's DayToday is Valentine's Day and it's a special day for so many reasons. Sure it's about flowers, candy and cards and we all look forward to sharing those things with the people we love but it's also a day to feel grateful and pay it forward. Do something you might not usually do. There are so many things to be happy about and so many little ways to show people you care.  Whether it's your family, a friend or even better,  a stranger you've never met. Take the time to do something special. Put a smile on someone's face. Do someone a favor. It will make the day that much better! My little Valentine to you is a simple recipe for sugar cookies that I have actually shared before. It's not just a recipe, it's a tradition. I have been making these cookies for special holidays since my kids were tiny. My mother made them for me and my sisters. It's the tradition that's special, not the recipe (although it's a really good one!). Happy Friday! Happy Valentine's Day! Have a fabulous weekend!

Valentine's Day Sugar Cookie Recipe

Leslie xo

Life is Good

Elizabeth's Wedding  copy (640x424)I know, your jaw is on the floor and you're wondering what is going on! A blog post? Really? Yes, really! What has it been? Three, almost four months? I feel like I've been on another planet and I've missed you! And I've missed my blog like crazy! I wanted to hug it when I signed on to write this post (not kidding)! The good news is I have been busy doing something I really love! Here's the story...

20130706-DTS_7324 (640x426)

Last year I decided to start listening to my inner self and I began to follow my true passions in life.  Since then, things haven't been the same. Along with some other amazing changes, I started working full time at Cork Factory Hotel in Lancaster, PA as a Wedding Sales Consultant. (You may remember my daughter Elizabeth's wedding was there.) The place, the people and the job are all awesome and I love it! If you ask me how I got there, I will tell you it was fate. It's been an amazing few months and a perfect fit! The bad news is, my new schedule has not given me time to blog the way I used to. And those of you who work full time know days off are precious. The race to tackle the to-do list begins the minute you leave the office. So obviously the blog went to the bottom of the priority list.

Well last week, for some reason, I decided to bump the blog up a notch on the list and get back to it. Call it perfect timing, prioritizing, whatever it was, I decided to sit down and write. I'm looking forward to blogging again whenever I can, about whatever I'm in the mood to share. No schedule, no plan (if you know me, that's not easy!)

So to give you an idea of what I've been up to, I decided to share a few of my favorite photos that I've captured at Cork Factory Hotel. I think you'll see why I love it there!

Cork Factory Favorite ShotsThis is a wedding cake in progress behind the scenes at The Baker's Table, our on-site bakery. It's fun to see all of the beautifully decorated cakes that come out of this bakery. The talent is extraordinary.

Cork Factory Favorite Shots (1)Another day, another gorgeous wedding cake from The Baker's Table.

Cork Factory Favorite Shots (2)Each event is so very different and it's fun to see how people celebrate special occasions. This is a simple candlelight wedding ceremony in one of the newest event spaces at Urban Place, The Warehouse.

Cork Factory Favorite Shots (3)Meeting so many wonderful people in the wedding and event industry is definitely one of my favorite things about this job. I had the opportunity to sit down with Janell Berte of Posh Bridal recently to interview her for a Cork Factory Hotel blog post. These wedding dresses are just a few of the many stunning designs in her upscale shop.

Cork Factory Favorite Shots (4)Another "perk" to the job is having so many amazing coffee shops and restaurants to visit while I'm in the area. I have a few favorites but one of the best cups of tea I have had was at a little place called Cafe Di Vetro. You know how I feel about detail and presentation and this was one of the best!

So there you have it! You are officially updated and I am happy you are here. I'll look forward to staying in touch and keeping you posted! You can look forward to some more frequent posts and a possible new twist to the blog!

Have a wonderful week!

Leslie xo


Stone-Harbor-Sea-Glass-Beach (640x426)It's hard to believe it's July! Where did June go? Summer is moving along quickly and lately I find myself trying to slow it down in an effort to really enjoy each moment but like it or not, it just keeps moving. It's been a busy year for our family. We have so many wonderful things happening. We welcomed my beautiful little granddaughter in May, we're celebrating my daughter's wedding in a matter of days and our entire family will be gathering at the beach for a wonderful summer vacation. My family is spread out from the West Coast to the East Coast but they are all slowly traveling to the same place to be together to celebrate and have a good time. I feel very blessed to have such wonderful people in my life. I want to soak up every minute with them and for that reason I will be taking a little break from blogging in order to fully enjoy every little thing that goes on! Don't worry, I will be collecting photos and memories and will blog about all of it when I get back, especially the details of Elizabeth and Jon's wedding! In the meantime if you're looking for some recipes, DIY projects or things to do this summer, I have a few ideas. Check out these past blog posts.

Nut-Free-Pesto Nut Free Basil Pesto

Have some basil growing in your herb garden? Try making pesto. It's quick, easy, and freezes well.

blackberry-jam Blackberry Jam

Capture the flavor of summer with this fresh blackberry jam recipe.

Peach-Berry-CrispPeach Berry Crisp

Peaches and berries come together to make this delicious summer dessert.


Who doesn't love Sangria in the summer? Get ready for happy hour with these three recipes.

Stone-Harbor-Sea-Glass-1 (640x426)Sea Glass

Heading to the beach this summer? Keep your eyes open for Sea Glass. It's one of the prettiest treasures on the beach.

Beaded Bracelet DIY DIY Beaded Bracelet Tutorial 

Looking for a summer project? Try making your own beaded bracelet.

Dip-Dye-Scarf-12 Simple Dip-Dye Scarf

Accessorize your summer wardrobe with this simple DIY project.

Celebrate the little things, enjoy the people around you and have a wonderful summer! I'll see you soon!

Leslie xo

Favorite Things

Favorite Things Mother's Day (6) Favorite Things Mother's Day (8)This Sunday is Mother's Day. It's a day to honor not only our mothers but all of the important women in our life. It's a time to say thank you and a time to be grateful. So much of who we are we owe to them. They love, teach and guide us all of our lives.  I personally feel I would not be the mother I am today without the love and support of my own mother. The dedication and commitment she has shown her family over the years is truly admirable and I am a better person because of it. Today I thought I would share some favorite photos of the most influential women in my life. They have shared so many wonderful gifts through the generations and although some of them are no longer with us, their gifts will be present forever. Happy Friday!

Favorite Things Mother's Day (1)This is my maternal grandmother. She was an amazing woman. She loved unconditionally, had tremendous faith and a compassionate heart. She touched everyone's life in a positive way and treated every person she met with love and respect. She was full of wisdom and an absolute joy to be around. She was an amazing role model.

Favorite Things Mother's Day (3)This is my paternal grandmother. As an Italian immigrant, she worked hard to create a better life for her family. Hearing the stories of her voyage to the United States and all that she had to go through as a young mother traveling alone, makes her a hero in my eyes. Having a conversation with her was a history lesson that I only learned to appreciate once I grew up. Her cooking skills were something not many of us have mastered but what we did learn made us better in the kitchen. She was a wonderful woman.

Favorite Things Mother's Day (5)This is my own mother. I could write a book about her. She has shared so many gifts I will forever be grateful for. My creativity, love of tradition and dedication to my family are some of the things I have learned from her. She always celebrated the little things in life and still does. She knows how to find the joy in anything and would rather take a last minute trip to the zoo with her great grandchild than cross something off of her to-do list. She is a wonderful mother, grandmother and now a friend. I feel blessed that I live close to her and have the opportunity to spend so much time with her. She is amazing.

1998This is one of my favorite pictures of my four children. It was taken 15 years ago in one of our favorite places, Stone Harbor, NJ. When I look at this picture, I see four beautiful people who have made my life complete. From the time they were little we have been making wonderful memories. We played in the sand, danced in the rain, ate ice cream late at night in pajamas and sprayed silly string all over the yard, just because. It has been a privilege to be the mother of these great kids and I have loved every minute of it. To me, this weekend is about them.

Favorite Things Mother's Day (4)This is my daughter Lauren with her son Braden. I will never forget the day he was born. It was one of the happiest days of my life. You can't imagine a joy greater than your own child until you have a grandchild. The past two years have been some of the best in my life.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! Take time to be grateful for the people in your life. Thank them and show them you care and remember you just might be a bright spot in their life too!

Happy Mother's Day!

Leslie xo

Photo of Lauren and Braden by Mariclare Lavelle

Favorite Things

Favorite-Things-Spring (2)Each time a season changes, we are reminded of how quickly life moves and how important it is to stop and pay attention to the little things around us. This week we welcomed spring and although there is still a chill in the air where I live, there are some definite signs winter is slowly moving out. If you look around, you'll notice that things are starting to come alive.  There are buds on the trees, the birds are singing and the flowers are peeking out of the ground. Spring is another opportunity to reflect, make changes and look forward to the many wonderful things ahead. Today I thought I would share some of the little things I've been noticing as spring begins. Happy Friday!

Favorite-Things-SpringAlthough it seems to be a myth, robins have always been considered a sign that spring has arrived.

Favorite-Things-Spring (1)As the tulips start to rise, I look forward to the color that will be scattered throughout my flower beds.

Favorite-Things-Spring (3) Pansies are one of my favorite flowers. They are hearty enough to stand up to the last of the cold weather so they are the first flowers I plant each spring.

Favorite-Things-Spring-RabbitI love to see rabbits wandering around the yard, another sign that spring is here.

Favorite-Things-Spring - CopyOne of my favorite signs of spring is when the pussy willows start to bloom. Their soft fuzzy buds are such a perfect announcement of the new season.

We are in a transition right now and it's a beautiful thing to watch. Enjoy all of the little things spring has to offer because before you know it, they'll be gone. Life moves fast, don't miss it!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Leslie xo

Robin and Rabbit photos courtesy of Doug Reese

All other photos by Leslie Reese

Favorite Things

Sprinkle_Baby_Shower (1)Tuesday I shared my daughter Elizabeth's bridal shower with you. I posted pictures and told you what a wonderful event it was. What I didn't tell you, was that the very next day we had another party. This one was for my daughter Lauren. She and her husband are expecting their second child in May. When we realized all of Lauren's aunts were going to be in the same place at the same time, we decided to celebrate! We threw a surprise "Sprinkle" for Lauren, which is a smaller version of a baby shower. We kept the party simple, just close family, and enjoyed a lovely brunch in a very laid back setting. I thought it would be fun to share some favorite shots from that day. Happy Friday!

Sprinkle_Baby_Shower (3)A simple invitation was tucked inside a velum envelope filled with tissue paper confetti. Sprinkle_Baby_ShowerWe filled the drawers of a baby dresser with colored tissue paper and small gifts. It was a nice way to display a large item that could not be wrapped.

Sprinkle_Baby_Shower (11)We used colored sprinkles to decorate everything from food to flower vases.

Sprinkle_Baby_Shower (2)A thin glass vase filled with water and flowers was placed inside a larger vase. Colored sprinkles were placed in between the glass to create the illusion of one sprinkle filled vase.

Sprinkle_Baby_Shower (6)To keep it simple, we placed tissue paper flowers in the chandelier that hung over the table.

Sprinkle_Baby_Shower (4)Colorful polka dots complimented the sprinkles on the table.

Sprinkle_Baby_Shower (5)Fresh fruit was served in waffle cones.

Sprinkle_Baby_Shower (9)French toast souffle with maple syrup.

Sprinkle_Baby_Shower (10)Sun-dried tomato, asparagus and cheese Frittata.

Sprinkle_Baby_Shower (8)The Ducky Baby Shower Punch was a huge hit, and looked so adorable on the table.

Sprinkle_Baby_Shower (12)Festive punch cups! We brushed the rims lightly with Karo Syrup before dipping them in sprinkles.

Sprinkle_Baby_Shower (7)Strawberry Cheesecake Bites.

Sprinkle_Baby_Shower (13)Funfetti cupcakes with sprinkled frosting.

From weddings to babies our week was full of celebrating! It was challenging to keep details straight and secrets safe, but in the end, both parties were a huge success! Next up, a little rest and relaxation!

Have a great weekend!

Leslie xo

Bridal Shower Love

Elizabeth-Bridal-Shower (12)This past weekend was a very special weekend for our family. My daughter, Elizabeth, is getting married this summer and on Saturday, we honored her at a beautiful bridal shower, styled especially for her. It was an incredible afternoon spent with family and friends at a fabulous little bakery called The Baker's Table, in Lancaster, PA. The focus was on color, and a simple but hip, non-traditional theme. The result was a fresh, clean look in a comfortable setting and a very happy bride-to-be. I thought it would be fun to share photos from the day along with a few links on how and where to find some of the things we used. The shower was a collaboration between myself and Elizabeth's sisters, Lauren and Lynsie. Our ideas were simple but came together beautifully, creating a memorable event.

Elizabeth-Bridal-ShowerA beautiful 14' X 5' table, crafted out of wood beams that were a part of the original building structure, is the focal point in this space. We placed a gold Chevron Paper Runner down the middle of the table. Five large bowls of flowers were placed along the runner. We decided to go with lots of color instead of just the colors that were chosen for the wedding to make the table pop. Bear-grass, stretched between two vases, was used to create an archway between each flower arrangement.Elizabeth-Bridal-Shower (1)Placemats with sketches of girls in pretty dresses were perfect for a bridal shower table setting. A bright yellow tissue paper flower filled with petite chocolate candies, was placed in the center of each one.

Elizabeth-Bridal-Shower (2)A mason jar was used to hold the utensils and keep the placemats from looking cluttered. The idea came from The Baker's Table website. We used bright beaded bracelets for napkin rings and added a pretty paper straw to dress it up for a shower. The jars added something fun to the table and the bracelets doubled as a small favor for the guests.

Elizabeth-Bridal-Shower (3)A sign made with satin ribbons and a wooden frame was used to direct guests to the gift table.

Elizabeth-Bridal-Shower (8)A Blushing Bride Cocktail was chosen to toast Elizabeth on her special day. The bride-to-be, dressed in a coral sweater, is surrounded by her beautiful bridesmaids.

Elizabeth-Bridal-Shower (5)The pastry chef at The Baker's Table made a delicious vanilla cake filled with chocolate mousse for Elizabeth. It was beautifully frosted with bright stripes of buttercream frosting.

Elizabeth-Bridal-Shower (4)The Baker's Table celebrates baking and for that reason alone, it is the place to go for some of the most wonderful baked goods around. We incorporated some favorite desserts, in addition to the cake, so that guests could experience what The Baker's Table is all about.

Elizabeth-Bridal-Shower (9)The desserts were served buffet style, which provided plenty of opportunity for guests to enjoy something sweet at their leisure.

Elizabeth-Bridal-Shower (10)What's a bridal shower without something fun to do during gift time? These Shower Libs provided plenty of entertainment for the guests.

Elizabeth-Bridal-Shower (6)Lauren and Lynsie came up with a game that was also quite entertaining. Wedding veils and bow-ties were glued to wooden dowels and guests were given one of each. The bridesmaids read answers to questions that Elizabeth and her fiance, Jon, had to answer before the shower. For example: We asked Elizabeth and Jon what their favorite color was. The answer was blue. Guests had to guess "who said it" and raise the appropriate stick, veil or bow-tie. It was a lot of fun.

Elizabeth-Bridal-Shower (7)One of my greatest blessings in life is having four amazing sisters. Three of them now live on the West Coast. All four of them traveled home just for the shower. Not one of them gave it a second thought. Distance is not something that gets in the way of the most special occasions in our family. I will never take for granted how lucky I am to have these women as my best friends in life. Our weekend was full of laughing until we cried, catching up and celebrating some wonderful things.

Elizabeth-Bridal-Shower (11) (640x464)This is Elizabeth with her Mimi. My mother is the woman who we look up to, admire and adore. She is another wonderful blessing in all of our lives.

The party is over and my sisters are gone but hey, who said we can't plan another party? It's what my girls and I love to do and I can't wait to bring you the next one. There are some fun things on the calendar and I hope to share them all with you. Remember to have fun with whatever it is you are doing each day. It's the little things that make the difference!

Have a great week!

Leslie xo

Blogging for a Purpose

CFCA-quoteToday instead of sharing my regular Favorite Things post, I decided to share something that in many ways, has become a favorite thing for me. It looks very different than a list of favorite candies, comforts or websites. It's something with more of a purpose and something that I am proud to be a part of.

My involvement with CFCA, Christian Foundation For Children and Aging, began six years ago when I had the opportunity to participate in a sponsorship event at our local church. I was extremely moved by the stories of families that have been helped by CFCA. This organization works hard to provide support that benefits the family as a whole by focusing on education and creating a better future. They are currently serving more than 300,000 children, youth and aging persons in more than 22 countries around the world.

429765This little girl is now part of our family. She is very special and we are so proud of her.

Once the presentation was over, I sat for a minute and thought about my options. I hesitated, naturally wondering things like whether or not all of the money really goes to these families and would I really be helping the specific child who's folder I chose. I could walk away or I could help. Something told me to help, so I did. I decided to sponsor a child from Guatemala. She was 12 years old at the time. At that moment,  I felt like I had done my good deed for the day. Little did I know, I was not just changing the life of this child, but my own life as well.  It wasn't long before I was receiving letters and photos of my newly sponsored child. It was wonderful to watch her progress and I was overwhelmed with the gratitude that she expressed in each letter that was sent. I knew I was making a difference.

CFCA-Guatemala (1)

The following year, my daughter Elizabeth decided to participate in a Semester at Sea program while she was in college. She would be traveling to several third world countries during her trip. We were busy planning and getting her ready to go and one day it hit us, she would be going to Guatemala! We decided to contact CFCA to find out if it would be possible for Elizabeth to visit our sponsored child. We figured it was a real long shot but why not look into it. What happened next was truly life changing. After many back and forth emails and phone calls, the CFCA team arranged for Elizabeth to meet our friend and her mother. It wasn't easy. By the time it was all arranged Elizabeth was well on her way, in the middle of the ocean, but after a continued effort on all of our parts, we connected Elizabeth to our friend and they had a chance to meet. They exchanged small gifts and had a chance to  speak through a translator. It was an overwhelming and humbling experience for Elizabeth and a moment of extreme gratitude for our new friends.  One of the most profound moments for me was to hear what Elizabeth had to say when she returned from that trip. She told me that as she traveled  from country to country, she noticed that the people who had the least were the happiest and most grateful. They appreciate the little things.

CFCA-GuatemalaI am extremely impressed by the work that CFCA does and I am thrilled to be a part of such a wonderful organization. In an effort to collaborate with the CFCA community, I will be dedicating a page on my blog specifically to this foundation. I plan to bring you inspiring stories and information about the many people involved. I will be sharing special recipes from the countries where our sponsored friends live. It's fascinating to see how bread is baked  without a traditional oven! I hope you'll stop back to check out the CFCA page, which will be up soon. Feel free to leave comments, get involved or just stick around to be inspired. It's amazing how one small act of kindness can change so many lives. Whatever you chose to do, make it count!

Happy Friday! Have a wonderful weekend!

Leslie xo

*Names and exact locations were not used in order to protect the privacy of our sponsored friend. All opinions are my own. This is not a sponsored post.

*Please note ~ CFCA is now UNBOUND

Favorite Things

comfort-chicken-soupHomemade chicken noodle soup on a cold or rainy day.

During the winter months, we hear the words "comfort food" a lot. And lately, for some reason, I find myself thinking about what that means. If you look up the word comfort, it means a sense of physical or psychological ease. That makes sense. Eating chocolate certainly puts my mind at ease! Food can be a great source of comfort for most people. It's different for everyone. So what about the other things that represent comfort? It's a word that I have obviously thought about a lot this week so I decided to share my favorite "comfort" things with you today. Happy Friday!

comfort-chocolate-cupcakes (2)Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting

Comfort-HugsEvery single hug my grandson gives me. One of the most comforting things in life!

comfort-flowersSpring flowers in the middle of winter. Stone-Harbor-2012 Knowing that the bonds that have been created in our family over the years are being carried through the generations.

comfort-kidsA text from your son that lets you know he got back to school safe and sound.

Sometimes it's the littlest thing that make you feel warm and fuzzy. Whatever it is, it's a great feeling. What are your favorite "comfort" things? Have you thought about it lately?  Have a wonderful weekend!

Leslie xo

Favorite Things

winter copy Photo by Doug Reese

Wow is it Friday already? This week flew by! It was a productive one for me with lots of catching up, working on projects and planning events, all while trying hard to stay warm. We had some record breaking low temperatures in PA this past week and it made me think that maybe my three sisters who moved to California were the ones with the right idea! I love winter but these cold days had me begging for spring. It made me appreciate some of the little things that I depend on in the winter months to keep me warm, happy and not so chapped! Here are a few of my favorite ways to fight the chill of winter. They are simple, inexpensive and so effective. Happy Friday!

QticaLipBalmQtica Lip Balm

I'm pretty sure the word addicted would be appropriate for me when it comes to Qtica. Ask anyone that knows me well (because I probably forced them to try it). This stuff is like gold and if you use it, you will never want anything else! It's that good!

NeutrogenaHandCream2Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream

Neutrogena Hand Cream keeps your hands soft and your cuticles and nails from drying out. I keep one in my purse and one on my nightstand. Love it!

cerave-moisturizing-lotionCeraVe Moisturizing Lotion

Not everything you put on your face has to be expensive. My dermatologist actually recommended CeraVe lotion to me as a simple, every day way to keep my skin hydrated. I use it on my face and body. I love that I can get it in a drugstore.


STAX fire starters from Duraflame

I love burning fires in the winter. I have a wood burning fireplace and wouldn't trade it for the world. There is nothing like the crackle of real wood. And although I consider myself somewhat of a Girl Scout, I prefer the quick start method over the "from scratch" method any day!

IMG_5914 (640x426)The Republic of Tea ~ Ginger Peach Decaf

As much as I talk about my love for a latte, I am a tea lover too. Republic of Tea is one of my favorite brands of tea and the Ginger Peach Decaf seems to be the perfect remedy for a cold winter day.

Comfy-Warm-BlanketChenille Throw from Restoration Hardware

This is one of my favorite blankets. It's a simple chenille throw that we picked up several years ago at Restoration Hardware. It's heavy, soft and warm.

So there you have it! Just a few little things that I appreciate this time of year. Simple? Yes. But isn't that what it's all about? Funny how  some of the littlest things can make you happy! Look for them, what are yours?

Have a great weekend!

Leslie xo

Happy New Year!

Happy-New-Year copyToday, we put 2012 behind us and we welcome 2013! I hope you have wonderful memories from last year to tuck away and cherish forever. For me, there were some special moments that I am grateful for. My grandson's first birthday, my daughter's engagement, and time well spent with family and friends. I launched my blog and have moved forward with some personal projects. It's been a great year. I feel blessed and I am looking forward to a new year filled with more great moments, new memories and unending possibilities. I appreciate your support and wish you an amazing 2013! Happy New Year!

I will be back next week with some fresh ideas and new posts. Enjoy the day!

Leslie xo

 Photo Credit: Doug Reese

Favorite Things

Christmas is one of the happiest times of the year. For me, it's a happy time because the season is full of celebration, fond memories and tradition. It's a nostalgic time of year. A time to reflect on favorite moments from the past and a time to look forward to what the future will bring. We started decorating our house early this year so we could take our time, enjoy the moment and soak it all in before things get hectic. These are some of my favorite things this week. They are things that bring me joy. Happy Friday!

Going to the Christmas tree farm to wander around and cut down our tree.

Vintage Santa glasses from when I was a little girl. They are more than 40 years old. I still love them.

 I bought this wooden Pinocchio ornament in Rome during a family trip to Italy. It reminds me of the wonderful time we had.

A Santa jar that my son made for me when he was little. It is one of my favorite Christmas decorations.

Vintage Christmas ornaments that were passed down from my maternal grandmother. I treasure each one.

The first snow. A beautiful start to the holiday season.

Find your joy and have a wonderful weekend!

Leslie xo

Favorite Things

Life rushes by at such a fast pace and when we get busy with all that we have going on, we often forget to stop and pay attention to the little things. There are so many small joys that happen every day. Something as simple as a morning sky, a blooming flower or a person walking by can turn into one of life's best moments, if you take time to notice it. Here are a few of my favorite moments from the week. Happy Friday!

Waking up to a gorgeous sunrise during a weekend trip to the beach.

My mother's homemade vegetable soup with a side of gourmet potato chips.

An accidental mix of hazelnut and pumpkin spice coffee that ended up being one of the best tasting lattes ever.

Our first fire of the season.

Watching my grandson create a masterpiece with his own little hands.

Don't forget to look for the little things! Have a wonderful weekend!

Leslie xo

A Summer to Remember

Well it's the middle of August and summer is almost a memory now, but what a wonderful memory it will be! If you are wondering where I have been for the past few weeks and why there hasn't been a post in quite some time it's because I have been busy making memories. Summer is a special time of year for my family. It's the time when we all come together to spend time with each other, get caught up on kids and family and look forward to the year ahead. I have four sisters and as the years go by and our kids get older, getting  together is not as easy as it used to be. There are cross country flights, work and sports schedules, college and school preparation and lots of other variables that make family gatherings a challenge. But...somehow we do it. One way or another we make it happen. We gather together and overlap vacations so that we can spend at least some time together.

This year our gathering place was at our family home at the beach. It's everyone's favorite place. We were in and out and all over the place. There were kids on air mattresses and in bunk beds, and there were so many cars at one point that we were told we were taking over the street. We will laugh about that one forever! The bottom line is that I come from a family that will go to great lengths to spend time together, and for that I am grateful. We simply love being in the same place at the same time. And don't get me wrong, we have our share of "this is crazy" and "there are too many of us now" or even "I might not do this again," but after we all go home and summer is over, we will all have a day where we find sand in a beach bag or look at pictures that we've taken and we get on the phone and start planning for summer all over again. It's who we are and I love that!

So after weeks filled with family, food, travel, crazy fun and lot of laughs, I am full of gratitude and great memories and will hang onto that until next summer rolls around. I hope you are doing something you love this summer too! You still have a few weeks left so take advantage of the season while you can and live it up! It won't last forever! As for me, I am going to get back to work so I can bring you some fun new recipes, back to school ideas and more! Stay tuned because it's going to be a great fall!

Leslie xoxo

Happy Birthday!

Birthdays are a funny thing. When we are little we anticipate parties, friends, cake and presents. We get excited to be one year older and we count the days until our next big day. As we grow older we don’t necessarily want a party, we don’t need presents, we eat much less cake and we don’t want to admit to our friends how old we are. But there is always a reason to celebrate, and that’s why I love birthdays!

One of the things that I celebrate each year is the fact that I am lucky enough to have a twin sister. Her name is Linda. She is my soul sister and my best friend. Every year we celebrate our special day together. If we can’t actually be together we call each other all day long and celebrate from a distance. She is amazing and I love her.

I love being a twin. We had so much fun growing up. We are fraternal twins but people still couldn't tell us apart when we were little. I think it was because our mother dressed us alike and gave us the same super cool haircuts (we love you mom!)

We have been close all of our lives and have always been best buddies. For that I am truly grateful. I love this picture. It's old so it's not the best quality but it speaks volumes!

Birthdays in our house were always fun. We would have a joint birthday party but there were always two cakes. We loved having our own cake! And we always, always wore a birthday hat! That was standard birthday attire in our family!

When we get the chance to celebrate together we like to do something special. This was our 40th birthday. We spent it together at the Ritz Carlton in Key Biscayne, Florida. It was a wonderful trip and it made turning 40 a lot less painful!

In my family it doesn’t matter how old you are, if it is your birthday you will be celebrated! It will be a big deal and you will feel special. It’s just what we do. My mother always made each one of us feel special on our birthday. It made us realize we were loved but it also made us realize that it was important to celebrate and appreciate the people in our lives. It gave me something to pass along to my children and to this day we make a big deal out of birthdays…no matter how old you are!

When my kids were little, on the night before their birthday, I would sneak into their room and put balloons all over the floor. It gave them something to smile about as soon as they woke up. I still do it if they are home on their birthday.

I will also write Happy Birthday on the bathroom mirror at night so when they get up in the morning it’s the first thing they’ll see. (I use lipstick)

For me birthdays are about celebrating life, cherishing those around you and being grateful for all of the good things in life. Even if you haven’t had a great year for some reason, you have things to be thankful for and there are always things to celebrate! Your birthday is the perfect time to reflect on those things and look forward to a wonderful year ahead.

Take time to celebrate the people in your life whenever you can. Remember it’s the little things that make a difference, so whether it’s simply remembering to say happy birthday or filling a room with balloons, you will be making someone smile and that just feels good!

Cheers and Happy Birthday to my twin sister Linda! May you have a beautiful day and fabulous year! Xoxo Leslie


Photos by and property of Leslie Reese




Fresh Cut Flowers

As the seasons change and the weather gets warmer one of the things I look forward to is having fresh cut flowers inside. I love fresh flowers any time of the year but there is something I like about walking outside and cutting just a few stems of whatever happens to be blooming and bringing them inside to enjoy.

One of the things I realized a long time ago is that you don’t need to have a flower garden in order to enjoy fresh flowers. If you have perennials around your house you can just snip a few blooms from those plants. We don’t have a flower garden but we have beautiful flowers scattered around our yard. We have a peony plant that I love and some pink and red knock-out roses that bloom all summer. We also have a small patch of daisies that are great for cutting. Once in a while when I need just a few flowers for a small vase I will even  snip some from the flower pots on my patio. You would be surprised what you will end up with if you just take your scissors outside and start looking around. Do not, however, wander into the neighbor’s yard…

My mother is famous for having fresh flowers in her house at all times. It doesn’t matter what time of year it is, if you go there, there will be fresh flowers somewhere in her house. It’s one of the little things in life she appreciates and I love that about her. Her favorite flower was always a daisy and every time I see one I think of her.

My favorite flower by far is a peony. I think they are the most beautiful and interesting flowers there are.  I love the way they grow and the wonderful fragrance they have. When my daughter Lauren decided she wanted peonies for her December wedding I was thrilled. I knew it was going to be absolutely beautiful.

Once you cut your flowers you can arrange them however you’d like to. Choose a vessel and fill it with water. Start with one flower and just keep adding. Don’t overthink it. If you do you will take the joy out of it. Trust your own eye and do what feels natural. Fresh flowers are beautiful…period.

It's fun to use vases in different shapes and sizes. Use whatever you can find around your house. For this bouquet I chose a narrow vase.

These old fashioned Coke bottles are perfect for single stems.

This is a limited edition Christian Lacroix Evian bottle that we found at Target a few years ago. My daughter loved them and bought them for one of the events during her wedding. I saved a few for just this purpose. I think a single stem daisy looks so pretty in this bottle.

I’m sure there are a ton of tutorials out there on flower arranging. And if you want to learn how to make amazing arrangements then it’s a great idea to look into them. What I want to share with you though is that you don’t have to know how to arrange flowers to enjoy them. Look around, see what’s out there and bring the beauty inside. And find a way to share that beauty with others. It’s a little thing that can make a difference in someone’s day, just ask my mom!

Photos by Leslie Reese

Sea Glass

I feel very fortunate to live in a place where I am able to enjoy all four seasons in a year. Each one is different and each one has something wonderful to offer.  Summer is a time for freedom, lighter schedules, family vacations and days at the beach.  Some of my most cherished memories are summer memories. It’s a time when little things like taking a walk on the beach become something that you hang onto forever. For me, searching for sea glass was one of those little moments that ended up turning into so much more than a walk on the beach. If you have never heard of sea glass or you are wondering what is so great about it, I’ll tell you why it’s special to me.

My four sisters and I are lucky enough to have parents who fell in love with a little beach town on the eastern shore of New Jersey called Stone Harbor. For well over forty years we have been traveling to Stone Harbor to spend weeks at a time enjoying the town, the beach and most of all family. It has become a place that holds some of our happiest memories. We are all parents now and it has been fun watching our own children enjoy the time they spend with their cousins, aunts and uncles, and grandparents. Now Stone Harbor is also a special place for them.

I’m not sure exactly when it started but a number of years ago my sisters and I started picking up sea glass while we were walking on the beach in Stone Harbor.

Sea glass is basically broken glass from old bottles or glassware that is weathered by the natural elements over time and ends up hidden in the sand on the beach.  The cool part is that there is some real history behind sea glass. Certain colors, like turquoise, are very rare and hard to find. Some of the glass that is found dates back to the 1800’s and could have been anything from a whiskey bottle to an ink bottle. It’s fascinating.

Searching for sea glass has become something everyone in our family loves to do. It doesn’t matter if you are on a walk with other people or you are running alone. You are usually looking, at least part of the time, for sea glass. It has sparked interesting conversation and created investigation into what each color might mean. At times it has been an unspoken competition, trying to find the most glass or the first cobalt blue piece of the summer. For years, three of my sisters were convinced my sister Lisa and I had a secret sea glass spot because we seemed to find so much of it when we were together. It was a coincidence but we played along. Our kids collect it now and as a matter of fact I think my niece Jillian has found the best piece yet . We have enjoyed all that searching for sea glass has turned into. For us it’s about family.  It’s about being together. It’s about the little things and the memories that are created. For us it’s so much more than a walk on the beach.

Photos by Leslie Reese