Motherhood, mothers day, Uncategorized

Mamas and strawberry lemonade

My mom is genuinely my best friend. My husband jokes about the amount of time I spend with her…but I explained to him how she’s not like “most moms”. How she will stand with me in the pit at a concert drinking wine and dancing or go totally natural with our similar wavy hair or the way she chases adventure and gets me to teach her how to ride horses. I explained to him how she was just nice to be around, a kindred spirit now that I’m older and out of the house. We’re just enough different and just enough similar.

I’m an old soul and my mom and I share a love for antiques and nature. So we both enjoy reading the old timey magazine called Victoria magazine. I saw where I could send in a letter for Mother’s Day explaining what I loved about my mom. I saw this at 8 am and not even 20 minutes later I had written something to send in before work. It was so easy to write and recall all the ways she was a good mother. It got published in the magazine for the May/June issue along with many other women writing about their great mother’s. It was cool to see my mom’s attributes displayed in a magazine we both loved alongside so many other amazing tributes to women’s mother’s. It made me realize how powerful womanhood and motherhood is.

I thought I’d go ahead and share with you what I wrote in honor of Mother’s Day and in remembrance of all the amazing mothers out there who work so hard to cultivate lives full of joy and peace:

“As a child, I would always tiptoe down the stairs in the morning-greeted by the aroma of fresh coffee-to find my mother wrapped in one of her pink or floral robes. Before doing anything else, I would crawl onto her lap and rest my head on her chest. Planting a kiss on my forehead, she would ask me how I slept. She always smelled like peonies, and I think this was because she adored them. I believe that what you love, you in some way become.

Today, newly married, I have a painting hanging in my house of a woman with auburn hair smelling roses. Her eyes are closed, and her head is lifted, as if she is inhaling the best perfume in the world. This portrait reminds me of my mom because it captures her approach to motherhood: soaking it up for all it’s worth and savouring it completely. She cooked heavenly food, cultivated an inviting and orderly home, and loved us with grace and kindness. As I grow older, I realize what a job that was and how she took it on as her purpose.

She raised five women, all of whom have grown and are thriving but still dearly love their mom as a friend and confidant. I notice qualities my sisters inherited from our mother in the way Claire cooks, how Mary loves coffee and can brew the perfect pot, the way Lauren nurtured so tenderly, and how Cate loves to keep things homey and clean. And me? I love flowers. I pray everyday that when I have children, they will see things in me that make them feel safe and warm inside, just like we all feel with mom. But more than anything, I hope I will smell like flowers.”

Here’s a recipe to treat your special mom with a refreshing drink you can make on Mother’s Day. It’s a delicious strawberry lemonade that she will love.

Simply smash in a sieve 4 or 5 fresh, ripe strawberries or frozen, thawed, into a two cup measuring cup. Squeeze two lemons into the cup. Add three teaspoons of sugar or stevia ( I use Pyure) to taste. Fill with water and stir vigorously. Taste and adjust sugar and lemon to suit your taste. Pour into glasses, add ice and garnish with lemon slice and mint.

Serve immediately to your mom!

Family Life, wedding

The Magical Wedding

It’s come and gone. After months of planning and buying and preparing and agonizing over the weather, it’s over. December 8th is a day we will never forget. A day of witnessing and celebrating the marriage of two very special people. Nan and Perrin got married on a cold day right before a major snowstorm hit North Carolina.

The wedding was truly a family affair. Hart and I prepared all of the food, down to the wedding cake. Our guests were our immediate family and my wonderful friends helped us set up and served the food for the wedding dinner.

Nan’s sister, Cate wrote the music for the processional and to this day I can’t listen to it without tears. It is so moving. Her sisters and best friends were her bridesmaids and honorary bridesmaids.

The bride and her entourage got dressed at our house , the only home Nan had known. It was a crazy time with people every where . The videographer was in and out as was the photographer. The children were running around and lots of cooking was going on in the kitchen!

All of Nan’s nieces were her flower girls. They had their own fairy table at the reception with jars of fairy dust, coloring books and glow sticks to amuse themselves. At the bonfire they roasted marshmallows and lit sparklers. A few of the little girls wore their fairy wings and by the fire in the dark, looked like angels running around.

Perrin’s brother was his best man. His two best friends and his future brother-in-law’s were groomsmen. God provided a lovely day for this event. It was cold but not raining and the big snow came during the night. Thankfully, because we got 18″!

It was a magical night with a beautiful ceremony. Nan’s sister, Lauren read a poem called Grow Old With Me and her brother-in-law, Witt shared a special message to the couple and those attending. The music was played by two very talented musicians,who are sisters, and the sisters of our son-in-law, Gabe. The photographer was his cousin. Before the father- daughter dance , Nan’s sister, Claire read a poignant letter that Nan had written for her dad. That’s where the tears started for me.

Bayberry Farm has always been a place of joy for Nan, as it was one of her first jobs, caring for the horses there. The owner, Lori, calls Nan her farm daughter. She has taught her so much! Horses are one of her loves and are what her future holds, as a Therapeutic Recreation major. The farm is where she wanted to get married. I’m so happy we could make it happen.

Family Life, Thanksgiving, Uncategorized

Why am I Thankful?

‘The more you practice the art of thankfulness, the more you have to be thankful for.” – Norman Vincent Peale

When I think about what I am most thankful for, it’s never anything I own. It’s always my family and friends. The people we do life with. The ones who get you through the hard times that make the good times so much sweeter. I’m thankful for my house but I am more thankful for the people inside who make it a home. I’m thankful for my car, but I am most thankful it gets me safely to North Carolina and Tennessee to spend time with family. I’m thankful for all of the Thanksgivings spent lingering around the table talking with loved ones, some who are no longer with us. I’m thankful for memories of Thanksgivings past. The tears my Grandfather Gordon always cried when the whole family gathered in my Grandparents’ kitchen and held hands as my Dad prayed. He was the only one who could get through a prayer without crying. My Grandfather always treasured seeing his family gathered together. It moved him to tears every holiday. I’m also thankful for Thanksgiving memories made with my in-laws. We’ve spent Thanksgiving at the beach, different houses; one year everyone crowded in our tiny three bedroom house to celebrate Thanksgiving and to celebrate the birth of my youngest daughter. Even with all us crammed in that tiny space my heart was so full.x

“Now is no time to think of what you do not have. Think of what you can do with what there is. – Ernest Hemingway

So today, let’s list-actually write down or type out what we’re thankful for. List the little stuff…like the sunshine dancing on the floor, lighting up the room after a week of rain. Or the art work or photograph that makes you smile every time you walk by. The smell of something yummy cooking or the scent of some delicious takeout. I made a list to share of what I’m thankful for. As I wrote it, I felt like they say the grinch did, and my heart grew three sizes.

When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.‘ – Willie Nelson

What I’m thankful for.

A wonderful, amazing husband, two sweet girls and two loving eccentric old lady dogs.

A house that is now home. Fully renovated and repaired.

A tribe of amazing friends. I never thought I would have such amazing girlfriends in my life but I really do.

I have two sisters living in Georgia. One is only fifteen minutes away.


My bother- in -law is home safe after almost a year in Afghanistan.

This month I got to spend time with all four of my sisters. Really good quality time.

The beach.

I have three adorable nephews and three adorable nieces.

I’m thankful for my large shower. After ten years of trying to balance on one leg crammed in a corner, in our old house, this large shower still makes me happy.


I’m thankful for all the trees around our house that are gorgeous red and yellow colors.

Good food!

I’m thankful for a dinning room full of tropical house plants that make my heart sing when I walk by.

I’m thankful for the opportunity to homeschool our girls.

Sushi and sake.

I’m thankful for art, music and classical education.

I’m thankful for long summers and short winters.

I’m thankful for hard seasons that make sweet seasons even sweeter.

I’m thankful for my grandparents. I’m thankful my daughters got to meet all four of them and still get to spend time with my Memom and Granddaddy Wilder.

I’m thankful for my huge extended family.

I’m thankful for the 13 foot Christmas tree my husband picked out in true Griswold style.

I’m thankful for the men and women serving our country.

For the missionaries spending their Thanksgiving in a different country away from their family.

I’m thankful for Whole Foods bakery making gluten free pecan pie.

I’m thankful for a pool where we made so many good memories with friends and family this summer.

I’m thankful I can call my mom whenever I want to.

I’m thankful my youngest daughter is so creative.

I’m thankful my oldest daughter is a little scientist.

I’m thankful God is the same God who created the world, changed the hearts of kings and then sent us His Son.

I’m thankful for forgiveness and salvation.

I’m thankful I’m the daughter of the Most High Warrior.

I’m thankful my kids love Jesus.

I’m thankful for coffee.

I’m thankful for extra thick memory foam on a king sized bed.

I’m thankful for sparkle lights .

I’m thankful for Christmas.

I’m thankful for Disney World. And being able to be a kid again.

I’m thankful for my wonderful family I was blessed with when I got married. Now I can say I have six sisters.

“When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.” Maya Angelou

I am thankful for you, reading our blog each week and coming along on this journey with us. Comment and tell me some of things you’re thankful for this year and if you’re already decking the halls or waiting until after Thanksgiving to decorate.

” What if today, we were just grateful for everything?” – Charlie Brown

I wanted to share some pictures of the people and things I’m thankful for. Post some pictures what you’re thankful for in the comments!


Family Life, Seasonal, Thanksgiving

11 Topics for your Thanksgiving Meal

Thanksgiving meals can be both fun, joyeous and somewhat predictable. We all come prepared to answer the lovable questions of “what are you up to now? How is school? What are your plans?” These questions are sweet and asked out of politeness and curiosity and while some of us may jump at the opportunity to talk about our plans, some of us may not feel as enthusiastic about providing boring answers. I love family and the wonderful occasion of gathering together and catching up on life. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. We are reminded of what life is all about. What really matters. We get to eat and eat and eat wonderful delicious homemade food! And while Thanksgiving may look different for everybody, I think we all long for that sense of community and fellowship.

We’ve put together some table topics for you to enjoy using at your own Thanksgiving gathering this year. Table topics can be a fun way to encourage everyone to share and to share about things that everyone can be interested in. They help us to remember why we celebrate Thanksgiving. Simply copy and paste these on note cards that you can tuck under everyone’s plate at the table. When everyone has eaten enough to start carrying on conversation, interrupt to explain you’ve hidden a card under each plate and you’d like each person to take a turn answering the question. Then allow everyone else to briefly chime in and share their own answer to your question.

1. What has happened to you this year that makes you thankful?

2. What makes Thanksgiving special to you?

3. If you had to eat one Thanksgiving dish for the rest of your life, what would it be?

4. What is your favorite Thanksgiving memory?

5. What’s the most unusual food you’ve eaten on Thanksgiving?

6. Name any movie where they celebrate Thanksgiving.

7. Describe your perfect Thanksgiving.

8. Who are you most thankful for? Who has had the greatest impact on your life?

9. What is your favorite Thanksgiving tradition? And why?

10. What hard thing that has happened to you this year, that you have learned and grown from , are you thankful for?

11. What are some of God’s promises that make you thankful?

Happy Thanksgiving from Iris+Hart, in particular Cate, Nancy and Lauren. We hope each of you have a fun and memorable time with family and friends. We are thankful for each of you.

Enjoy your conversations with each other and let’s us know how it went. We love hearing from each of you.

**Possible answers for number 6: The Blind Side, Home for the Holidays, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving etc.

Family Life

My Fifth Wedding

December 8th is a very important event in our family’s life.  Our fifth and last daughter is getting married.  It was kind of funny that my husband’s concern  about having five girls wasn’t how to provide for their education or the extra curricula activities or even all the sets of braces they needed, but the weddings!  He saw dollar signs at the mere mention of the words “I do”.  But you know what, he’s been such a trooper, such an amazing father as he helped to plan and yes, pay for each wedding.  The number one thing we did, after all the champagne popping, was to set a budget.  Each daughter had a certain amount of money that we’d provide for their dream wedding.  Next, I would sit down with the bride -to-be and ask her to describe  the wedding of her dreams.  I’d write it down to refer back to it amidst the wedding planning to see if we were on track or not. And of course not everything they wanted was possible, but we tried.

Each of our daughters is unique and therefore had different priorities. For one daughter  the dress was very important, another it was the invitations or the venue and so on.  One thing we learned is that it doesn’t take a ton of money to throw a beautiful wedding but it does take a community of people.  Our people pitched right in for sure, from my wonderful sisters to my special group of friends.  They all willingly gave of their time and talents.  And for that we are extremely grateful. It’s been a privilege and honor to reciprocatefor their daughters’ weddings as well.

Back to our December wedding, Nan is the bride and Perrin, her groom.  We are so happy to be gaining another son-in-law.  Truly, we love each of our “sons”.  Also having married children is the best!  Hey you eventually get grandkids too!  Nan and Perrin are getting married at a small horse farm down the road from us.  It’s where Nan had one of her first jobs, feeding the horses when the owner was on vacation or helping out with the never ending farm chores.  It’s an important place to her and the owner calls Nan her “farm daughter”.  We are excited to hold the wedding there, but it is not a wedding venue.  It won’t cost us anything, but it will take some creative and hard work on all our parts to make this a memorable day for the couple in love.

The first task is building a bathroom.  Hart, my hubbie, and Perrin, the groom are very handy guys.  They have undertaken  this task.  Last Saturday after a trip to Lowes, they were in the driveway sawing and hammering away.  They have the basic shell up and I can’t wait to see it.  But of course as nature would have it, we are in the midst of a major hurricane, Michael, as I write this.  So there have been trips to the farm to make sure the structure is protected from the storm.  I’ll be posting pictures of it as I make my way over there to photograph their progress. Just in case your curious as to why there is no bathroom at the farm, Bayberry Farm is a hobby farm and not where the owner lives, so that’s why there are no facilities (ie. no house)  on the premises.  Her dream is to live there in the near future.

We will set up tents for the reception.  Nan wants long tables with lots of greenery down the middle.  Since it is a small affair we will use my mix matched china plates and crystal glasses, cloth napkins and lots of greenery and white twinkle lights everywhere.  There is an unfinished large log cabin on the property and we will have the food in there.  Since it is December we will have heaters in strategic places.  We are also collecting warm throws for the guests to use during the ceremony.  Weather permitting Nan wants a bonfire outside the tent for roasting marshmallows.  The food is the couple’s favorite dishes.  Smoked pulled pork, slaw and rolls, mac and cheese, an assortment of deviled eggs, salad etc.  We are serving broccoli cheese soup and tomato basil soup as an appetizer in my tea cups.  Nan has designed a very special cheese board, plus the best bacon wrapped dates you’ve ever had.  She also wants signature cocktails, wine and beer.  For dessert I am making a small wedding cake and we will have a variety of doughnuts and the smores of course!  I can’t forget the coffee and hot chocolate bar. It all sounds so delicious and romantic.

Nan decided on silk flowers because we can make them ahead of time and it will always be a keepsake for her.  Thirty-five years ago my mother-in-law was in the wedding flower business and she made all of my wedding bouquets from silk flowers.  It’s been special to use my bouquet as a centerpiece on our anniversaries and it’s a fond memory of June, especially since she passed away this past February.  I’ve been making bouquets and boutonnieres and corsages and the cutest flower girl fairy wands!  I adore working with silk flowers.  It is one of my hobbies.

Back in September when three of Nan’s sisters were in town we went to Lynchburg, Virginia to a wedding boutique.   Our second daughter, Claire got her gorgeous gown form this very special place.  It’s called Church Street Bridal. Proceeds from the sale of the gowns go to domestic violence prevention and intervention services.  This includes sheltering victims, helping them with legal counsel, and even training them to get back on their feet.  The store is located downtown Lynchburg in the YWCA.  Now isn’t that amazing?!  Not only are we buying a wedding dress but helping someone in need!  I love that!  The gowns are new samples that have never been worn, other than being tried on.  The prices range from 200.00 t0 900.00 but theyretail for 800.00 to in the thousands of dollars. Sometimes they even receive dresses that range in value between $10,000 to $30,000.  Again isn’t that amazing!  We have always had such a good experience there too.  The sales women are so nice and so excited for the bride as she searches for her special dress.  Once the bride declares that this is her dress the sales woman asks, “Are you saying yes to the dress?” and if she says yes, a bell is rung and everyone shouts.  It’s quite a wonderful moment for the bride who has dreamed of this moment her whole life.

Nan found a stunning lace dress that fit her perfectly.  She put it on and said, “I feel beautiful in this dress”.  It is a dress from Kleinfelds in NY, which is cool if you’ve ever watched “Say yes to the Dress”.  The dress she chose is made by designer RomonaKeveza and retailed for 3600.00 but we purchased this gown for 300.00.  Once again isn’t that amazing!  Nan also found her floor length veil there and we couldn’t all have been more ecstatic for her.  What a fun trip and the young grandgirls that went with us were in heaven. I’m not allowed to share pictures of Nan in her dress until after December 8th.  But I will you can be sure.

Each of our girls’ receptions have been a family and friend affair.  My sisters and I make all the food and my friends are so gracious as to serve it at the reception.  I have made each of their wedding cakes as well.  That tradition started many years ago when my three sisters were to be married.  My dad priced cakes, (my aunt made mine) and was aghast at the cost!  So he decidedthat he  and I could learn to make wedding cakes!  We signed up for a cake decorating class and guess who was the star of the class?  My dad.  He had such a steady hand that he could make icing roses perfectly.  The instructor gave us her no fail pound cake and frosting  recipes, and we were set to go.  We purchased the necessary cake pans and got to work.  Together we made around 4 or 5 cakes, some for friends.  He helped me make my oldest daughter’s wedding cake but after that he retired from cake making and I’ve been on my own.  I will say it is not my favorite thing to do.  I would not enjoy making wedding cakes for a living but I have enjoyed making cakes for my girls and a few close friends and family.  But after wedding #5 I think I’ll retire my cake making skills as well.  Yet who knows when I may get the urge to create another masterpiece down the road.

I’m already feeling sentimental as I am preparing for Nan’s big day.  My house will truly be empty of children, although she is 22 and going to college.  It just feels final.  Like the end of an era.   Don’t get me wrong, I’m so thrilled for each of my girls and it is right that they live their own lives.  And I do, and will enjoy time alone with the love of my life.  I am looking forward to it just being the two of us.  And I am super excited to take over Nan’s room!  It will become my work room for Iris + Hart!!  Now that’s exciting!

There will be more to come about the wedding and with pictures!  We are hoping and praying for  warmer temperatures for this event.  Isn’t life a celebration?  Every time I turn around its someone’s birthday or anniversary or some big milestone in their lives.  But truth be told, every day is worth celebrating.  And I for one am so thankful for my family and friends who celebrate with me.

What are you celebrating this fall or winter?