Adorable Easter Centerpiece

This post is written by me on behalf of Pillsbury. All opinions are entirely my own. This shop has been compensated by Acorn Influence, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.

Easter is one of my favorite holidays! We host an Easter dinner and neighborhood egg hunt each year. It is always a sweet and fun time to catch up with family and friends. Our music director and his family usually join us. After months of rehearsals and hard work, it is an honor to allow them to just relax and enjoy the day with great food!

I like to keep it simple so that we can just spend time enjoying one another.

Pillsbury has the cutest Chick Shape Sugar Cookies & Bunny Shape Sugar Cookies. They were easy to find in the refrigerated cookie section at Walmart.

My mom is in town and helped me create this quick, easy, adorable Easter Centerpiece.

Ingredients and Supplies:

  • Pillsbury Chick Shape Sugar Cookies & Pillsbury Bunny Shape Sugar Cookies
  • Green Cake Icing
  • Lollipop Sticks, 4″
  • Easter  Basket
  • Green Easter Grass


  • Insert Lollipop Sticks, 4″ into cookie
  • Bake per package instruction
  • Allow to cool completely
  • Add green cake icing to bottom of cookie, to completely hide lollipop stick
  • Insert into Easter basket for a cute and easy centerpiece!



Every year, we have Riley’s birthday party at the same place. He loves it. I love it. It makes it easy. This year, it was pouring rain. In the desert. In February. What?!

The morning of the party, we quickly emailed everyone and let them know that we’d be having the party at our home.

(Cue small panic).

I was hosting a baby shower that morning. My thought process had been that I could leave the house a mess because we were heading to the train park that afternoon. Brilliant, right? Thank goodness Riley’s friend’s parents are so wonderfully laid back. We opened the front door and the back door. We got out the bubbles and the sidewalk chalk and watched as a circle of very loud and funny six year olds ran around the house. They chased each other with an air pump. They chased each other with a ball. At some point, it all digressed into wrestling. Because… boys.

I was so worried that Riley would be disappointed, but he never said a thing. He was so happy to have his friends over. It was wonderful just to get to know all the parents a little better and put faces with names.

On the day of his actual birthday, I asked what he would like to do. He said, “mom, would it be okay if we went to the train park?” I still had all the tickets that we didn’t use left over from the party, so off we went. The weather was absolutely perfect.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but he thought all his friends would be there at the train park waiting for him. We had a little bit of a rough time getting past that part, but when Tia and Uncle Colton said they’d meet us at McDonald’s for dinner, all was suddenly right with the world.

(Side note: when Brian found out that we were at the park, he rushed over from work to help and celebrate. Do you ever just look at your spouse and realize how lucky you are? Goodness. Tell them. Tell them how you appreciate all the things.)

Dearest Riley, we are so thankful for you.

I can’t imagine our family without you.

You are silly and sweet. You love your sisters and brother so much. You love to color, play outside, and play with friends.

You build obstacle courses for Mary Alice and check on her when she cries. We love you so very much. May God grant you many years.

Love, mom.


tinuviel - Happy birthday, Riley!! That train park looks really fun. You picked such a good way to celebrate with your family.

Mary Thompson - Riley, you are so lucky! Two parties! Wow!
Everyone is going to want two parties now.
You have the best ideas.

Refrigerator Dill Pickles

My lovely husband would live on pickles if he could. A good dill pickle can set the entire mood for the evening. It can take all his cares from the day and have him singing musical numbers. Well, not really. But he might sing a really good Police song.

Do you follow Shannan Martin? She’s amazing. Her heart for loving people – all people – will inspire you. In addition to loving people, she is an expert on all things pickles and salsa related, including tacos. My food of choice involves anything drenched in chocolate or cheese. Brian’s food of choice involves anything that salt might be best friends with. It took me 10 years to learn to make our pantry look how his looked growing up, or at least a mix of our childhood homes. After I learned that (finally), we were so much better about eating what we had in the house. But, that’s a story for another time.

Back to Shannan. She told me to make these pickles, so I did. Brian did an Irish jig the first time he tasted them, so I knew we had a hit. The entire jar was gone in one sitting. (Riley and Mary Alice are his pickle buddies).


  • Quart jar


  • 1 T table salt
  • 1.5 T sugar
  • 1/4 t black peppercorns (heaping)
  • 1/4 t mustard seed (heaping)
  • 1 T chopped garlic (about 4 cloves)
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • Fresh dill to taste (I used one head of dill and a 3″ section of the feathery stuff)


  • Fill the jar with warm water, screw a lid on, and shake until the sugar and salt have dissolved.

Super easy.  These will keep for about 2 weeks, unless you live in my home and they will last through one session of setting the table.

The Wedding Dress

Sometimes you are talking with a friend, and something sparks a memory. There is a picture so clear, so vivid that you feel as though you are walking the footsteps over again. You can feel the carpet. You can hear the people around you and you remember exactly how you felt.

Today, the story of how my wedding dress was chosen came rushing back to me when I was talking with a friend. I knew I had to write it down before it was buried in the cheerio-ed to-do lists of tomorrow.

Mom and I had tried on ten million dresses. It was the annual David’s Bridal last year’s clearance, with racks and racks full of $99 dresses. I couldn’t find any that I just adored, so we put two on hold. We decided to drive home, pick up dad, eat some lunch, and ask his advice on the two dresses we had put on hold. If I remember correctly, one had long lace sleeves and was very Victorian.

We ate at Jason’s Deli and drove back down I-45 in Houston to David’s Bridal. Dad was being such a good sport, but he could tell that I didn’t really like either of the dresses. He kept making jokes about me wearing mom’s dress. (She was 5’1″ and 107 pounds when they were married. At 5’6″ and a wee bit more than 107 I figured I probably wouldn’t be able to get it past my knees.) We had decided that the dress was one wedding expense we would really save money on, so that we could pay for extended family to come into town.

We walked into the store, and Dad said, “Here, try this dress on.” I hesitated and said, “This isn’t one of the two that we have on hold.” And he said, “That’s ok. When you put this on, it’ll make you feel better about the other two.” It made sense to me. Maybe it would look so terrible that the others would be relief.

I walked out and mom started crying. I knew we had finally found the dress. Dad stood there smiling, knowing exactly what he had done.

Dad found my wedding dress.

I never tried on a different dress. The next time I put it on was when dad escorted me down the aisle in College Station, Texas to marry my best friend.

Thank you, dad. I’ll always remember that.

tinuviel - What a lovely, lovely story!! - Thank you, mama! - I’d love to read your story!

Amy Carney - Love this! Got me thinking about writing my own story to hand down to my daughter with my preserved dress. Thanks for the inspiration!

Southern Gal - What a sweet, sweet story!

Mary Thompson - Oh what lovely memories. He was right you looked like a princess.

Thoughts about open adoption

“Adoption has the dimension of connection — not only to your own tribe, but beyond, widening the scope of what constitutes love, ties and family. It is a larger embrace. By adopting, we stretch past our immediate circles and, by reaching out, find an unexpected sense of belonging with others.” – Isabella Rossellini

Open adoption. I know this isn’t a possibility for everyone. I know that for some, especially in international adoption, it is nearly impossible.

What I can tell you is, if you have the opportunity to know, learn from, and be with extended family, please take it. The time you spend with one another, the gift of awkward moments, the rush to get to know one another, and the efforts to build a net of safety and love are so worth it.

This week at school is ‘All about Me’ week for Riley. It is his turn to show baby pictures and tell stories about who he is. Because of our relationship with Riley’s family, we have pictures to send. He has the story of his life and how he was loved so dearly from the beginning. My sweet little boy can talk about two family trees that have worked hard at building a shaded garden to play in, grow, grieve, understand, and love. He can see two families who love his so very dearly and want the best for his future. He can see that we want him to feel safe and loved.

Riley isn’t the only one who has been blessed by this relationship. Tonight, our next little one received a quilt from the hands of Riley’s great aunt.

A quilt… isn’t that just the perfect gift. Little pieces of fabric and story woven together, chosen carefully, to make something beautiful.

If we hadn’t chosen open adoption, we would have never been given the gift of knowing his grandmother (on the right) before she passed. If we hadn’t chosen open adoption, we wouldn’t have known the treasure that is his great aunt.

Oh Riley, what a blessing you’ve been to us. I’m so thankful for your family and how they’ve blessed our lives.

Mary Thompson - My Riley, is my heart. Each of my grandchildren is my heart. Love is not a pie you cut up, but something that grows and evolves as each person grows. Just when
You don’t think you could love them any more you discover another layer to that heart and person. It is the greatest adventure.