Dancing Hearts in Nantucket (Part Five: Nantucket Proper!!!)

I can’t tell you how wonderful it feels to have that last story (part 4) out of my heart and down on paper (and if you need to catch up, here is part 1, part 2, and part 3). I’ve been carrying around these memories for a year now, trying to remember them, trying to hold them close lest they vaporize with all the other important information in my brain that I’ve lost, like WHERE MY OTHER FLIP FLOP IS!!! 

But it has been recorded now. The story has been told. And I feel like a million bucks! Thank you for your sweet encouragement and for letting me know the tale resonated with you – it means the world to me, and all glory to our great God who does great things.

Today’s post will be less touchy-feely than the rest, an introduction to the HEART of Nantucket. If you like action, if you like architecture, if you like homemade ketchup…

you’ll love this post. Thanks for reading!

~

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To begin today’s installment, we first must rewind 24 hours from our current place in the story and go back to that moment when, after enjoying our afternoon snacks at the Union Street Inn and quickly freshening up in our room, Mama and I set out, on foot, to tackle Nantucket.

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What fun it is to go back into my brain in this moment. I was mostly just SO happy to be alive. I definitely liked what I had seen of Nantucket so far…

but I had NO idea, really, what was in store for us, just around the corner. 

I had no idea that, a half a block down the street from our one-night residence, the manifestation of all of my village dreams was waiting for me, a real-life Mitford, if you will (albeit bigger and less affordable, ha!). We turned the corner onto Main Street and…

WOW. My pictures in no way do it justice, so do me a favor and do a Google image search of Nantucket Main Street.

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It was a sight, for sure, and then some. A treat for the eyes. The ears. The nose. The HEART. I was immediately…home. Not like, home-home, of course. Home-home was waiting for me in Oklahoma, with four little loves and that dashing red head and a wonderful church that makes my world complete. No, this was a sort of heaven-home, a slice of near perfection in a fallen world that continually disappoints me with its consumerism, its billboards, its lack of care and imagination and beauty…

I couldn’t believe this city had been there, all these years, just waiting for us.

My mom most definitely was in agreement. This was it. This was the place she had been trying to find for decades, the fulfillment of a thousand dreams and wishes.

And what we still did not yet realize, as much as we adored this first street we’d found, was that the beauty was never going to end!

You know those special rooms you have in your house where all the junk quickly goes when company is coming? Those last-minute things that you just don’t know what to do with? So you just wad it all up in a ball and throw it in there and shut the door?

Nantucket, as far as I could tell in our short time there, did not have one of those rooms.

Every residence, every yard, every street, every block, ON EVERY CORNER OF THE ISLAND, was beautiful.

I’ve been to many pretty towns in my life and many pretty Main Streets, but the quaintness usually comes to a screeching halt a couple of streets over.

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Not so here.

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It kept going…and going…and going…and going!!!

As such, when Mom and I decided just to walk for a bit to look at the pretty houses, we didn’t know that we could basically keep walking for miles. And who knows? We might have!

Every structure was gorgeous. Every house was different. Every garden was perfect. And every tiny detail was tended to and taken care of. For instance, the door latches! They were darling. Not a deadbolt in sight!

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The yards and pathways betwixt them! I’d never seen such thoroughness.

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The cobblestone streets! The brick crosswalks!

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The flower boxes in every window, each one a different variety of color and _____!

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The churches!

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The movie theater!

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Gulp…THE BICYCLES!!!

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We walked and we walked and we walked and we ooohed and we aaahed and we dreamed and we reveled. I’ll just share a couple of my favorite houses here, but at the end of this post, I’ll share a gallery of all the pictures for those of you who want to see it all.

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After walking to our heart’s content, tummies beginning to rumble, we decided to rustle up some food and, I have to say, this part was tricky for us: there were so many places to eat, but we found that a lot of the restaurants we peeked into were gearing up for their supper crowds and had a reservation-only set-up. It made sense, because the rooms were small and cozy and…well, PERFECT. I could have/would have eaten at all of them.

Finally, though, we stumbled upon a little restaurant that was immediately approachable and easy, that could seat us right away, and that had a menu that felt familiar for us middle-class landlubber gals.

It was called the Starlight Theatre & Cafe and it was the ideal place for our first Nantucket meal.

Yes, it had a tiny movie old-fashioned theatre inside (!!!!!!). Yes, the huge windows were latched wide open, giving us a full view of the street. Yes, Pioneer Woman was on the television, bringing a little Oklahoma to our Nantucket. Yes, the food was DELICIOUS. We shared a simple chicken sandwich (called the D.F.C) and fries, but it was so flavorful and filling and the ketchup…the HOMEMADE ketchup…was so ridiculously good and now all other ketchups are dead to me.

You know, just typical vacation stuff, where you find something you will forever crave that you can never have again. 🙂

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I went out onto the sidewalk to get a picture of my mama at our table. Take note of the window boxes, please, and let us all swoon in one accord.

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After this wonderful meal – at the early hour, we basically had the place to ourselves! – we set out once more, this time towards the wharf, to see what was on the other side of Nantucket. The sound of the sea was beckoning us and we walked, in a trance, water-ward.

On our way there, though, something came up that quickly interrupted our trance and I’m speaking, naturally, of a little place called “The Juice Bar”.

“We have to stop here!!!” I told Mom, immediately recognizing it as one of THE highest rated eateries on Trip Advisor, “I’ve read about this place…”

And, boy oh BOY, do we now know why it has such high ratings!

Imagine, if you will, a vast variety of homemade ice creams. Then imagine seeing the ice cream of your choice being piled into a waffle cone that is not only homemade on the spot, but that is STILL WARM (!!!!!!!), and wrapped at the bottom in lightweight foil.

I have never in my life seen anything like it. Like the poor woman in this Babylon Bee article, I lost my ability to even once I was standing in this shop, and I don’t know that I’ll ever recover; during our short stint in Nantucket, Mom and I stopped by for an ice cream cone as often as we could — mostly because we’re not dummies — and what I would give to be able to run down the street and have another one.

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Funny story, though, when it was my turn to order, I could not for the life of me decide which flavor I wanted — they all sounded delicious — and, panicking under that awful spotlight of being in the front of the line and not knowing what I wanted, my eyes just landed upon the word “cookie” and I blurted out the flavor that was attached to it. Because I do like cookies.

“I’ll have the…uhh…cookie monster!!

“Okay,” the clerk said, “but I have to warn you that it is dyed blue. Are you okay with that?”

“Oh, sure!” I brightly replied. “No problem…”

As she put my ice cream together, though, and I was able to relax into a less-blindingly-anxious state of mind now that I was no longer being put on the spot, I began to process what I had just done. A bright blue ice cream. A bright blue ice cream named “cookie monster”. Ohhhhh…as in…Sesame Street. As in, THE Cookie Monster.

As in…this was an ice cream flavor for children!!!

Me dumb-dumb. Me like cookies.

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So there I was, walking next to my mommy down the streets of Nantucket, with my bright blue ice cream cone. I wonder if people thought I had just had my vaccinations and had been “a brave girl” about getting my shots? Or that I had been to the dentist without crying?…

I certainly felt like an overgrown child.

Especially when my mom got tickled at me because my LIPS TURNED BLUE.

And my teeth.

And my tongue.

And, of course, the white undershirt that was peeking out from my v-neck tee. It had been white before The Juice Bar.

Now it had a big blue blob on it.

Because I’m a 33-year old Cookie Monster.

Anyhow, regardless of my momentary shame (that was soon replaced with uncontrollable giggles), I pray that I will never, ever forget what it felt like to walk beside my mama in this city of her dreams, ice cream dripping down our hands, the ocean to our left, the cobblestones under our feet, the cold, invigorating wind whipping our hair all over the place.

It was the stuff of dreams.

The wharf wasn’t so bad, either…

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~

The next morning, after eating our breakfast at the Union Street Inn, with a free morning and afternoon to spare before heading to the next leg of our adventure, we walked again to Main Street, this time as Nantucket was waking up for the day. Mom was, obviously, excited.

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Now…I don’t want to continually sound like an overly-dramatic gushing exaggerator, but…IT WAS LIKE A MOVIE!!!

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People greeting each other in the streets, sellers turning over signs in their windows and opening doors to customers, dogs out for morning trots with their owners, bicyclists getting in an early round of exercise, and…brace yourselves…a Farmer’s Market TRUCK setting up produce.

I stopped right there on the sidewalk and rubbed my eyes.

“This can’t be real…” I murmured to my mom.

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But it WAS real. And, in Nantucket, it was just daily life.

I wanted to sit on the sidewalk all of a sudden and cry my eyes out.

In fact, I want to cry right now, all over again.

I collected myself, however, and Mama and I managed to squeeze a lot of sightseeing and shopping into the rest of that day.

We visited the library. (sniffle sniffle).

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We shopped and shopped some more.

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More house swooning.

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Aunt Leah’s Fudge Shop. (Don’t even get me started. Best fudge I’ve ever had, and we’ve even ordered it online since! Get the Sea Turtle flavor and thank me later).

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Boat watching.

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(here’s Mom when she realized I was taking ANOTHER picture of her as she watched boats – I told ya I photographed her like she was my baby! And you haven’t seen nothin’ yet!).

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Fish n’ chip eating.

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Dock walking.

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Sigh. It was a fabulous, wonderful day, the birthday celebration of the CENTURY.

I think we should go back, maybe tomorrow.

Want to come with us??

~

Oh, boy, you guys, stay TUNED for the next installment, when Mama and I find ourselves smack dab in the middle of the playground of the rich and luxuriating. So, so, SO out of our normal mode of living…but SO FUN!!! Until then, here are some more pictures for you to enjoy! Thanks for reading!

Mrs. Gore Likes…Noble Baby Mama

I will not be compensated for the following endorsement and promotion in any way. I am just a happy shopper and wanted to share! Hope you enjoy! And be sure to read all the way to the bottom to find a fun surprise! And I promise I’ll go easy on the exclamation marks from here on out!!!

~

It is hard for me not to gush when it comes to the things I really love.

The new Cinderella movie. The Mitford books. My ever-growing cardigan collection.

I start talking about them and I just can’t stop, as if the more words I use, the more you will REALLY understand how much I love whatever it is I’m gushing about.

“They can’t possible understand yet how much I love this. Let me use a few more superlative-laden sentences…”

Such is the curse of the enthusiastic and enamored.

And when it comes to the products that I am highlighting today, I am definitely enthusiastic and I am certainly enamored, and the reasons for both are many.

First of all, I actually know the woman behind this shop. She was a wee little thing in my church not so long ago, and I remember clustering around her with my friends and glorying in the preciousness of her face, her attitude, her everything! She was a doll, and believe it or not, she is somehow even CUTER today.

And so I just can’t comprehend it when the little people that were once in my life are now big people, with big talents and even bigger work ethics. Trisha, the young woman (and mother of two!) behind the Etsy shop Noble Baby Mama, is superbly talented, and has a business savvy beyond her years. I’m proud to know her.

Secondly, I really love to support the work of fellow believers, especially when they use their business to bring glory to God and to help others. Trisha and her husband are devout Christians, hardworking and kind and generous. In fact, Trisha just recently launched a fundraiser to help one of her friends adopt a baby by making and selling a special turban for the cause. I love that!

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And lastly, even if I didn’t personally know Trisha, and even if she wasn’t a sister in the Lord, I would just flat-out love the goodies she makes. They’re so cute. They feel great. They are understated and simple. They hold up well. They’re…perfect!

In fact, can I tell you something really true? When I received my first order of Noble Baby Mama hair accessories for my little girls and I held them in my hands and put them in their hair, I was so pleased that I have never felt a need to shop elsewhere. When it comes to hair, this is my STORE, yo, and almost every accessory in our collection has been ordered from Trisha.

So let’s get started with our shopping, why don’t we?

I love, love, LOVE Trisha’s knot bows, available in every color you could want. When Betsie was a baby, I bought MINI pairs of all the important colors for her piggy-tails, and then I keep an assortment of colors (and about six in white!) in a standard size for when the girls need something to just keep their hair out of their face or to adorn a single ponytail.

It is important to pay attention to sizing, but Trisha makes it really clear and easy in her product descriptions of what you’re ordering and what to do if you’d like a custom order.

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Now, I was going to doll the girls up and have them model some of Trisha’s bows so you could see them, but I decided, instead, to go digging through my photo collection to find instances of when the girls actually wore them. This is the proof in my pudding, yes? The following bows are all “mini knot bows”, in solid colors or gingham prints.

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The girls apparently even favor Trisha’s bows when they’re playing “Booty Shop”.

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On top of that, Trisha always has seasonal bows available in the cutest (and again, understated) prints, something new and different for your special occasions. For instance, this set of four mini knot bows that she released for the summer. SO cute!!!

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Or these 3-inch bows. Love.

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Sometimes Betsie chooses to wear all of Trisha’s printed bows at one time, in what she calls a “bow headband”.

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But where Trisha REALLY slays me, I think, is with her FANTASTIC turbans.

These are usually available for mothers AND daughters (yay!), and Betsie, our little hippie, especially loves them, plopping them on her head with any and every outfit.

The girls and I mostly like to wear them as headbands (as in, at the nape of the neck UNDER the hair), but sometimes they wind up on top of our hair, too.

Whatevs. It’s all good. Seriously, these turbans are cute both ways.

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Rebekah likes them, too.

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And, okay, I love them, too, for those days when I don’t get to wash my hair or just need to get that mop outta my way!

I promise I wasn’t posing for a senior picture here.

Rebekah was secretly photographing me while I watched Gideon shoot a BB gun.

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Speaking of daughters who like to take pictures of me…

Trisha offers an especially cute turban that I love the most – a mustard-colored beauty that goes with everything (and one that she JUST added back to the shop!!) –  and this is the only picture I have of it.

Betsie took this on a day she was asking me to make funny faces for her camera.

If you have to be caught making googly faces in a photograph, you might as well have a cute turban on, eh?

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Now…

the BEST part? When I messaged Trisha that I was wanting to share some photos of her products on my blog, she generously offered a special discount to Mrs. Gore’s Diary readers.

How about some more exclamation marks?

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

From now until the end of this month (July 2015), you can use the coupon code “mrsgore20” at Trisha’s Etsy shop and receive 20% off your entire order! It’s like we’re shopping together now.

Special heartfelt thanks to Trisha for doing this for us, and for letting my name be in a coupon code for the first time EVER. I’m atwitter, for sure.

And I guess I should stop gushing now so you can go shopping! You can find mini knot bows and 3-inch knot bows and baby headbands and turbans galore by clicking here. Don’t forget your coupon code: mrsgore20.

And be sure to follow Noble Baby Mama on Facebook and Instagram to keep up with future special offers and releases!

Thank you for shopping with me today. ❤

Have Courage and Be Kind – a Cinderella Birthday Party

If I recall correctly, I have already spent thousands of words discussing in detail how passionately I adored the new live-action Cinderella movie. You can read all about it here.

But what you may not know is that another one of the reasons I loved the movie was…

ahem (materialism alert)…

this dress.

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The one on the left, not the one on the right.

I mean, I love the one on the right, too, it’s just that I’m personally still too postpartum to wear an ankle-length all-over floral fabric, even if it was broken up in the midsection with a darling pink apron.

Nevermind the fact that my “baby” is almost 2 years old.

ANYHOW, where was I?

Oh, yes, the dress on the left.

It just basically sent me into sentimental hysterics before I was ten minutes into the movie. Don’t judge, mkay? Wardrobes speak to me. Always have. Always will. Even if I joined a nunnery!

Therefore, well after the movie had concluded – all the way home, in fact – my mind was sort of racing, daydreaming intently about how I could find such a dress for Rebekah.

It is, after all, one of my favorite ways to celebrate girlhood, this adorning of my daughters in frocks that pay homage to the timelessness and beauty of being little and free and pure. It’s such a short season. Let’s frame it in a floral print and a bit of lace, yes?

And, just like that, before I could really consciously make the decision, the “Rebekah of Sunnybrook Farm” birthday party I had been planning for my soon-to-be 6-year old was kicked resolutely to the curb and a new vignette was replacing it.

Goodbye, gingham and haybales and overalls and teacup pigs.

Helloooooo, Cinderella!!!

~

First things first, where in the world was I going to find a dress like Ella’s for this party?

I could hardly sleep that night, I was so excited, and well after my family had dozed off, after perusing all my favorite stores for a suitable dress, I withdrew to Facebook and shared the above photo with my little friend, Leslie (“little” as in much younger than me, much smaller, and much like a tiny, beloved pixie that I would keep in my cupboard, if I could).

Leslie has always shared my love for nostalgia and vintage, and I have long felt that she, young whippersnapper though she be, might rival me in her ability to find all the stuff that must be bought on the internets. Thus, if anyone could help me out or, at the very least, sympathize with my plight, it would be her.

And, on this night, she totally won the title of Internet Shopping Queen. In one fell swoop, she dethroned me and I now will forever bow in reverence to my successor.

Because, before the night was up, Leslie had somehow miraculously found THE EXACT FABRIC of the dress in the movie and had promised to sew up a dress for me.

(!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Yes, sure, the fabric was in Great Britain, and, okay, it was $36 per yard (more than I even paid for my couch upholstery!), and, granted, Leslie lives in Kentucky and this entire project would have to be done through the mail, but…

still…

how often does a girl get the chance to have the exact same dress as the actress portraying the younger version of Cinderella in a blockbuster movie???

(Leave me alone. I know I’m a weirdo).

Obviously, I was giddy with my peculiar brand of excitement, and the following Cinderella party sprang forth from that first night of scheming on the internet.

The following week, I proceeded to purchase a “Have Courage and Be Kind” print at Etsy.

I next bought a ceramic goose at Hobby Lobby. (Because…duh…have you seen the movie??)

I then began to pressure my amazing friend, Tammy, who HATES making cake balls, into making thirty cake ball pumpkins.

And it was sometime after purchasing the goose, I think, that I realized I had better get more bang for my buck and make this another SISTER party (like this one that we did two years ago!).

Betsie and Rebekah celebrate birthdays only nine days apart, and it just seemed crazy this year to invest in two separate girl parties when we could do this one big shindig together.

Leslie quickly began scouring the internet for another fabric that would coordinate with Rebekah’s dress and soon added another Cinderella-inspired frock to her sewing line-up and…

well, the rest is most definitely history.

Wanna see?

 

~

First, I obviously have to show you the dresses.

Leslie mailed them to us by post in this gorgeous packaging that may or may not have made me cry, a personalized garment bag for each girl, along with two little mice boasting ears made of matching dress fabric (I know, right?!)…

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And the actual dresses are everything I hoped they would be, lightweight and gorgeous and comfy and perfect.

I paid for the fabric and supplies and shipping and Leslie wrote the rest off as “an experimental prototype” (a.k.a. the sweetest and most generous birthday gift ever), but if you have wealth of any sort and would like to have a Cinderella dress custom-made for your little girl, Leslie is offering a very limited number of these in her new Etsy shop, My Dear Poppy.

I cannot praise my friend’s work highly enough and I am SO VERY proud of her. You can find her – and the dresses! (and lots of cute vintage-inspired baby clothes!) – by clicking here.

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Here’s a picture of just Rebekah in her dress. You’ll see more of Betsie’s dress in the weeks to come! She’s a wiggly little thing and hard to get a picture of. 🙂

This picture is a little fuzzy, but you get the gist.

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Now, backtracking just a bit, before the party started, I had several hours to myself to set everything up.

If you watch the show “Fixer Upper”, this was my JoJo moment, where I had time to myself to create and use my noggin. Many thanks to my sweet friend, Kodi, for understanding a mama’s need for quiet on birthday days by offering to watch my children all afternoon!

First up is the food table, bedecked with pretty flowers from Sprout’s. The butterfly clips were purchased at the $1 bin at Michael’s (and were on sale for 15 cents apiece!), and found a perfect home on a branch that was winding its way around this tree. The “One Shoe Can Change Your Life” sign is from my bedroom, given to me when Mr. Gore proposed to me with a pair of engagement shoes in 2004.

Whoopsie, I’ve never told you that story, have I?…

Someday, I promise.

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Here’s some plates and whatnot. This tuh-die-fer chair was my Christmas gift from my mama. You can find it in an assortment of colors here. The little pink table is from my favorite antiques store in the state, The Pink Lily, in Jenks, Oklahoma. You can find the shop on Facebook by clicking here.

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The party was set up in front of an old grape arbor that is currently holding up our climbing roses, which, by the way, were blooming brilliantly the week BEFORE this party.

Not so much anymore.

Whatevs.

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Here’s the dessert table, our antique buffet, dragged outside and heavy-laden with treats and sweets. Tiny cupcakes, mini bundt cakes, raspberry cookies, and lots of chocolates!

One thing I couldn’t really capture on camera were the wooden butterflies tied all along the arbor. They were purchased at Michael’s, spray-painted pink, drilled with a tiny hole and tied up with twine in various lengths. The end result, in our famous Oklahoma wind, was what looked like a dozen pink butterflies fluttering all around the dessert table.

Rebekah was atwitter. “They look like REAL butterflies, flying!!!” she laughed.

“I know!” I cried, daubing my eyes with a hankie.

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And here is another of my favorite parts of the party, this precious “Have Courage and Be Kind” print from You Doll Design on Etsy. I framed it with this lovely piece from the Studio Decor Savannah collection at Michael’s (I’m kind of nuts about these frames!), and it will soon be hanging between Betsie and Rebekah’s beds.

A true party keepsake, touting my favorite quotation of the year. Buy one of your own (and see MANY other beautiful prints) by clicking here!

(p.s. I can’t wait to do more business with this company – in fact, I’ve already put in a custom order for August that you guys are sure to love! Stay tuned!)

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This little wooden birdy was also purchased at Michael’s. I believe it cost a dollar, and I felt all kinds of crafty when I painted it blue.

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Now, I don’t really even want to THINK about the fun I could have had if this birthday party had landed in the fall — it kind of hurts my tummy to consider it — with pumpkins out the wazoo.

I tried to find pumpkins in June, I really did, but alas, even the Asian Supermarket had none. (It’s a long story).

As it was, I grabbed some fake pumpkins from our church’s decorating stash at the very last minute, and they did just the trick.

Again, could we all just applaud Leslie for adding the little mice with Cinderella fabric ears to our birthday package? I can’t even.

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Lastly, these floral paper straws that I bought at the last minute were a lovely touch to the party. Thank goodness for Prime shipping! The girls absolutely loved these straws. It’s the little things, truly. To find them at Amazon, click here.

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On the menu for the evening was a big plate of chicken salad croissants…

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berry-centric fruit salad…

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Pepperidge Farm butterfly crackers (a no-brainer, that one!)

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along with pimento cheese sandwiches, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and a plate of cheese slices, for Jacques and Gus Gus, of course.

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But real-people food is kinda boring, isn’t it? Let’s take a closer look at the desserts.

I made these mini cupcakes from a box and Wilton’s icing mix, but my friend, Tammy, made the fondant bluebirds for me. You can find some like these on Etsy (click here), or if you live in the Tulsa area, you could just ask me to contact Tammy for you. 😉 She can make crazy things out of cakes and sugar and such. CRAZY, I tell you!

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And here are the little pumpkin cake balls she made, too cute for words.

(And tasty, too! I will never tell you how many of these pumpkins were in my tummy by the time the clock struck midnight).

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My mom made miniature versions of her famous “Kentucky Butter Cake” with my mini bundt pan from Williams Sonoma. Find a similar pan by clicking here. And the “Eat Cake” cake server can be found here.

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This is my favoritest cookie ever, raspberry rugelach from Merrit’s Bakery in Tulsa. So pretty and perfect with a cup o’ coffee.

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At 6:00 p.m., as I was putting the finishing touches on the set-up, our guests began to trickle in, and I was just so tickled when my nieces showed up in costumes.

The children in our family are growing up and are really beginning to get into the spirit of things. I think our fun must just be beginning around here!

Here’s Anna in a darling Cinderella maid costume that she bought with her own money for the party. (You can find it at Etsy here).

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And Abigail used her own money to procure these “ugly stepsister” aprons for her and her friend, Katy. HOW CUTE IS THIS?? You can find your own here, and my sister-in-law, Amy, reports that this shop was great to do business with, ensuring that they got their last-minute orders in super-speed time.

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By the way, Abigail and Katy are the sweetest girls on the planet and had a really hard time pretending to be mean and ugly. Here they are just being them:

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So now that you’ve seen the basic set-up of things…

let’s party!!!

One thing I love about the young Ella in the movie (you know, the one with that FANTASTIC dress!) is that she was not a princess, but just a girl who loved her family and loved her life.

My daughters are not princesses, either, and neither are their friends, but they are little girls, and little girls are DIVINE!

Especially when they’re sitting on old quilts on the lawn, sipping tea and pink lemonade.

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The dessert table was, as usual, a big hit…

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Betsie was a fan of being allowed to help herself to her own treats. That doesn’t happen every day, you know.

Only every other day.

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Here’s my niece, Kate, in a beautiful floral dress, just being her awesome self…

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We were also so happy to have Rebekah’s music teacher, Christy, join us for this party.

Not many young ladies would give up a Friday night to party with a group of younglings, and that’s just one of the thousand reasons we love Christy.

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And here are my little birthday girls! Eating cake balls and feeling pretty!

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So after the girls had snacked and guzzled to their heart’s content, we pulled out our new favorite party trick, led by my eldest niece, Abigail.

Last year at their church, Abigail and her sisters were introduced to the fun of barn-dancing, and it is catching like wildfire ’round here.

These girls can’t get enough of the Virginia Reel!

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This dance is so easy and SO much fun!!! These little ones get absolutely dreamy-eyed when they are Virginia Reeling.

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And what would a dance be without some boys watching standoffishly from the sideline?

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Grandpa wasn’t afraid to join in, though, but he had to have two partners, Shepherd, and my cutie-pie niece, Harper.

Harper, by the way, came dressed in a Disney Cinderella dress, carrying a doll dressed like Cinderella. I was impressed by her thoroughness.

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After a couple of dances, we took a break and moved on to cake and presents (and refills of lemonade – it was hot out there!)

I couldn’t find a link for these, but I nearly did a jig when I glanced over during a shopping trip and saw these magic wand candles at Wal-mart. How fortuitous! They were still there, in the baking section, last time I checked.

(psst! If you are reading this from the future, this is June of 2015. I’d hate for you to make a special trip to Wal-mart only to realize that this blog post was written six years ago and that candles are now digital instead of wax. I’m thoughtful like that).

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Okay, the following isn’t the BEST picture of Betsie, but…

her dress matches everything in this picture!

It makes my eyes happy!

Doesn’t it make your eyes happy, too? All those pastels…

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Rebekah blows out her candles…

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Betsie blows out hers…

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And then we tossed the cakes over our shoulders so we could move on to the PRESENTS!

I do love a big pile of presents, don’t you? Our daughters were so blessed by many thoughtful and fun gifts from our friends and family.

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Rebekah was especially thrilled by this photo album from her dearly beloved cousin, Kate. We call them “You and Me” because they have made up a theme song about themselves and they sing it together whilst skipping through meadows.

“You and me…

“And me and you…”

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This is mayhap my favorite picture of Betsie from the night. A present as big as she is!

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Have I ever mentioned that I love this crew of kids?

I do.

I really, really do.

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There were lots of fun Cinderella gifts at this party. Like this picture book.

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I’ll post some Cinderella gift ideas at the end of this blog post.

I’d hate for this blog post to be too short and not have enough shopping links in it, you know?

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After the presents were devoured, we just spent some time together, talking, cleaning, dancing and making general merriment.

I love this next picture because I adore my boy Shep and his BFF, Daniel, but also because these hats were NOT set out for the party.

Shep reportedly found them in the sunroom, and next thing you know, he and his friends were birthdaying it up, all on their own.

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Well, sweet friends and party lovers, as you can hopefully see for yourself, even though I almost truly DIED from party exhaustion, this turned out to be a great night for all of us, being with friends…

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being with family…

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and doing it all in the dress of my…er, OUR…dreams.

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Happy birthday, Rebekah and Betsie, and many, MANY more.

Oh! And we all lived happily ever after.

The end.

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And now, for anyone who is interested, I present to you four fun Cinderella gifts. To find any of these products, just click on the picture:

1. We bought this book for the girls to share. It is a thick, hardcover volume with a soft, velvety feel to it and I think it is really beautiful.

2. Our girls were really excited to receive this small paperback book with images from the movie. Especially when they received two of them!

3. And this “Cinderella Day Dress” by my favorite dress-up clothes company is just the CUTEST. Both girls received one, and they have lived in them since. Little Adventures dress-up clothes are great because they are very comfortable. No scratchy fabrics, no glitter falling all over the house. I’m a huge fan. And this little dress might be my favorite of all that we’ve brought home!

p.s. Here’s a picture of Rebekah in her “day dress”:

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4. Lastly, the following product is not one I actually used, but OH how I wanted to! My deepest heart’s desire was to buy this necklace for each of our little guests but, by the end of this party’s planning, I barely had a penny left to my NAME.

However, this would be such a great gift with a great message for any little – or big! – girl in your life. Find them by clicking here.

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And that’s REALLY the end. Thanks for partying with us today! I hope this gives you plenty of ideas and inspiration for a Cinderella party of your own. If you have any questions, feel free to ask below or find me on Facebook. Happy endings to you all!

Want to remember or share this party? Pin it!

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Mrs. Gore Likes: Hearthsong’s Deluxe Platform Swing

This past weekend, we arrived at my parents house to find a surprise hanging from the trees.

Last year, my Mom had experienced one of these swings at my Aunt Susan’s house, and she just couldn’t stop talking about how much fun it was and how amazing it was and how badly she wanted to find a couple…

so we sat down one afternoon last month and finally purchased them.

And now I finally get her enthusiasm.

Without further wordage, I present to you the Platform Swing from Hearthsong, the FUNNEST SWING I have ever…swung…swang?…swing-ded?…from.

For reals.

p.s. the following photographs are candid and genuine and were not taken for this blog post; rather, they inspired this blog post! Special thanks to my sister-in-law, Amy, for capturing the fun!

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When you first load up, you have no idea how great it is…

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and then you find yourself screaming your face off in delight!!

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You can swing with your friends…

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or quite alone (and go REALLY high!)…

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you can swing if you’re young…

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you can swing if you’re old(er)…

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and, if you’re anything like us, you can swing all. day. long.

At some points, the kids were swinging high and laughing shrilly, and at others, they were lounging hammock-like, just staring at the trees.

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But just between you and me, I’m convinced no one loved the swings more than I did…

When I backed into one and laid down, I was expecting it to be fun, but I had no idea how awesome it would be. One of my quirks is that I react really loudly on amusement park rides and during those interactive 3-D rides; thus, when my Daddy pulled me back in this swing and let go, the following words came bellowing out of my mouth: “OH MY GOSH, I’M FLYING!! I’M FLYYYYYIIIIIIIINNNNGGGG!! I FEEL LIKE A GIANT BABY! I’M LIKE A GIANT BABY IN A CRADLE! THIS IS SO MUCH FUN! I LOOOOOOOVE IT!!! I COULD DO THIS ALL DAYYYY!!!!!”

Glad no one was around with a video camera.

And I can’t WAIT until I can cozy up on one of these with a good book and a long afternoon of nothin’. I’m convinced such a day is in my future!

Anyhow, by the end of our second day with the swings, my mom and I agreed that this must be the closest thing to flying that a kid (or an easily impressed adult) can ever feel.

They aren’t cheap, but if your summer budget allows, hurry! Buy one! And if it doesn’t, start saving up. You won’t be sorry!

Find yours by clicking on the picture below:


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A few more things: Do your research before hanging. You need a very sturdy tree with big, sturdy limbs, or something very secure to hang it from, and hardware to hang it with. Also of note: We’ve only had ours for a weekend. I cannot attest to how long they will last, or how many injuries might come from them or how soon we’re going to stretch them out with our (my) postpartum girth. I’ll let you know…

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About “Mrs. Gore Likes”: This blog is not a money-making endeavor, but since I enjoy sharing resources, I signed up to be an Amazon Associate, wherein I have the ability to share products and books and receive a small commission from anyone who shops at Amazon through my links (even if they don’t buy the actual product I shared). This outlet hasn’t allowed me to hire a cleaning lady or anything, but it has been fun to contribute to the family budget, even if it is only $10 a month. (The first month I made a whopping $3.47!!)

That said, I NEVER share anything that I don’t actually have in my home. And then I NEVER share anything that I don’t truly love and use. It is a matter of personal honor that I don’t dangle things in front of your eyes that will entice you to spend your hard-earned money; I want my blog to be a place where you come for rest and humor, not to find more stuff that you don’t really need.

But occasionally, I am so enthusiastic about a product that I feel it would be worth sharing. You’ll see those products and books show up in my Facebook news feed.

And then, even less occasionally, I come across something that just blows me away and I am so geeked out about it that I have to write a 600-word glowing review and share photographs of us enjoying it, whether it is from Amazon or not.

Enter “Mrs. Gore Likes”.

And if you hung in with me through that laborious explanation, Amazon should give YOU a commission!

Mrs. Gore Likes…Little Boy Vintage Awesomeness

So “Mrs. Gore Likes” is supposed to be one section of my blog where I do a little less talking. But, I have a long story today, and I can’t make it short. (My apologies, in advance).

Also, I have not been paid to promote any of the following products or companies.

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I’ve had this problem…

When it comes to his size in clothing, my son has always been about a year ahead of schedule. When he was 2 years old, he started wearing a 3T, when he was 3 years old he started wearing a 4T, and so on and so forth…

(but that’s not really my problem).

My son turned 5 years old in March.

(That is also not really my problem).

My problem is that, as a 5-year old boy who SHOULD still be wearing clothes from Baby Gap, he has outgrown size 5T, and far too ahead of schedule, has been catapulted into the far too grown-up world of (hiss and boo)…Gap Kids.

I don’t have anything against Gap Kids, mind you…

but I DO have something against my baby boy no longer having a wardrobe home while he is still a baby.

Where Baby Gap provided little boy clothing that was sweet and innocent and oh so cute, Gap Kids is edgier, more mature, more modern, more skull-and-crossboney…

and Gideon is SO not skull-and-crossboney (unless it is of the pirate ship variety).

And the worst part of the whole thing is, he was supposed to be a little bitty babyish bubby baby until next March when he turns 6…

he is NOT a…a kid.

All that to say, I’ve been on a bit of a wild goose chase to figure out how to outfit my little vintage boy in a way that represents him well and does my sentimental heart justice while the time and the opportunity is still mine.

And all of that blither blather above has led me to this blog post, where I would love to share with you my happy conclusion, along with links to some pretty awesome products (in my sort-of humble opinion).

That’s right…this was just the prelude to this blog post.

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Obviously, I am a bit of a psychopathical perfectionist when it comes to the things I purchase, whether it is clothing or floor rugs or melamine dishes. While I can fully appreciate a range of styles and colors, and greatly enjoy seeing different tastes in action (in other words, I promise I am not mentally tearing apart your home or your clothing or your birthday party because it doesn’t reflect my style of preference), my own style is extremely particular: vintage, classic, timeless, old-fashioned, with lots of nods to those who have walked before us (until the 1960’s…that’s when I completely stop tipping my hat to our forefathers).

To prove how particular I am, I’ll just fess up now and tell you that I always deeply struggle when my babies gain enough weight to move from Pampers Swaddlers (soft, white, minimal cartoonage) to Pampers Cruisers (purply, stiff, major cartoonage). How I would love to be able to buy a diaper with absolutely NO cartoonage. (p.s. I am sure such a thing exists…but not at my stompin’ grounds of Wal-Mart and Target).

I know. I’m a weirdo.

So it will come as no surprise to you that I really pour a LOT of thought into the toys and wardrobes and even the i-tunes playlists that I craft for my children. I don’t just want to dress them or entertain them or keep them busy; (brace yourself: this is where the weirdness really sets in) I am creating for them an aura, after carefully observing their behavior and their quirks and their personal flare. Because of this, I can see a certain type of floral print and I just die on the spot because its not just pretty…its Rebekah. A shade of pink has Betsie written all over it…

and then there is Gideon.

My vintage boy. My Opie. My classic 1950’s “golly gee wow” kind of kid.

If you have a boy like mine, I’d love to share with you some of the special goodies I’ve come across recently, an homage to classic and innocent boyhood, a few perfect products for the little man who is no longer a baby, but not yet a “big kid”. Clicking on the photos will lead you straight to the products.

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1. For starters, to make up to Gap Kids for all my ranting and raving up there, I have finally crossed over and do continue to some of my son’s clothes from this amazing store. If you plan on having many children, look no further than Gap, because their clothes stand the test of time and heavy duty play. My Baby Betsie is wearing clothes that have been passed down from cousin Abigail to cousin Anna to sister Rebekah to cousin Kate and now to her, and they’re still like new, all the seams still perfectly in line, not a button missing or a zipper broken.

And they won me over ever further this last week when I came across their school uniform line. These clothes were obviously created for schoolchildren who have to meet school dress codes, but they were also made for me, a Mama who has a son who daily begs to wear his argyle sweater or his herringbone sweater vest. In the summer. To play in the sandbox.

My heart rejoiced as my eyes took in the huge variety of unadorned sweaters and polos and cardigans, with nary a skull or a crossbone or a logo in sight. Gid the Kid is going to have a heart attack when he sees the box of school clothes I have hidden away, all of them scored at 30% during the school uniform promotion. They are beautiful and handsome and amazingly soft to the touch. Here’s my favorite of the entire bunch, a perfect topper for a t-shirt or a button-up oxford and tie:

They also have old-school gym clothes in this line, with sweatpants and hoodies that could easily pass for those worn by athletes in the black-and-white movies. I couldn’t resist this shirt, just $7.66 when I purchased it for 30% off! You can write your child’s name on the white blank, a special and personal touch that would thrill any kid.

and how about this button-up cardigan, made of sweatshirt material? Gideon will probably wear this with EVERYTHING, and it will make the perfect lightweight jacket for Fall and early Winter:

Let’s hear it for Gap Kids uniform line!!

2. But my biggest obstacle, really, in finding goods for my boy to wear at this tender age of 5 had more to do with graphic t-shirts than anything else. A sweater is a sweater is a sweater, but t-shirts these days…well, they just say so much! I was hard-pressed to find a message fitting for my boy, until I came across the graphic tees at Crewcuts. Admittedly, I would buy ALL of our clothes at J. Crew if we had the money or the conscience to do so, but…we don’t. That said, I have no problem periodically paying a few extra dollars for a t-shirt that will knock my son’s SOCKS off. The t-shirt selection at Crewcuts was less modern skateboardy boy or adolescent athlete boy and more high seas adventurer boy.

Perfect.

The first shirt I chose is my favorite purchase of the season. True to the school of classic boyhood, Gideon has a longtime fascination with the moon, and just watched the first moon landing on Youtube with a huge grin of wonder on his face (and I cried as I watched him watch it). This shirt is a tribute to all of his affection for one of God’s greatest creations…and it glows in the dark, y’all. Thus instead of buying him 8 long-sleeved t-shirts for Fall that would have cost far less, I bought him this one. Because he will be wearing it every day. (the price on this one was a stretch for us, costing about $10 more than we normally spend on a t-shirt splurge).

But this shirt will be a memory for him. A statement. He’ll wear it on his body, but it will also do something to his heart…

and how about this Out Of Print Clothing tee featuring the boyhood classic Treasure Island? Irresistable.

(and be sure to check out the Sherlock Holmes shirt, as well! If our son was a bit older, we’d have to snag it for sure).

3. and Gid the Kid always has a vintage topper in his wardrobe. He’s had tweed caps in plaid seersucker, in camel-colored wool, in grey knit, but I’m loving Janie and Jack’s Glen Plaid Tweed Cap for this Fall and Winter. Rest assured, it will almost positively go on sale…

But enough about clothes! Here are a few of my other favorite finds for 5-year old boys with old souls:

4. The Dangerous Book for Boys

If you have a son and you do not own this book, buy it now. Run, don’t walk. This book is a treasure from start to finish. If I was a book, I would marry it and we would have little baby short stories together.

5. When Gideon was 2 years old, we bought him a classic lunchbox and thermos combo from Barn Dandy’s in a vintage camping print. We’re still using it today, and I can’t wait to prepare his first school lunch in it! (clicking on the following picture will lead you to the lunch boxes). I also happen to adore the red cowboy print:

6. My friend, Kodi, recently shared with me the boys’ WONDERLAND that is J.M. Cremp’s (the boys adventure store). This website is truly my son in a nutshell and I am so thrilled to have been introduced to it while he is young. I especially love this Medic Bag, perfect for playing doctor or soldier or for actually using as a bag (and please, while you’re at it, look at all the goodies from this amazing website!):

7. I’ve been searching for the perfect blanket for Gideon’s “big boy” bed for years, and came perilously close to purchasing a Pullman blanket reproduction from Victorian Trading Co., regardless of the fact that it was 100% wool. “He needs to toughen up…” I thought, and I NEEDED an old-fashioned blanket to go in his room. I’m so glad my husband and my Mom (and even the staff at Victorian Trading!) talked me out of it, because Land of Nod just released a super-awesome line of vintage-inspired gear, including this perfectly soft (and unwooly) General Store Blanket. I am in love. (and as ever, the customer service at this store is unrivaled – they ALWAYS help this budget-conscious lady out!)

8. I waited too long and missed out on the following treasure at Etsy, but I’ll have my eye out for more vintage patches like this one to put on Gid’s backpack. He adores Davy Crockett and all heroes of yesteryear:

9. My son also likes to use cotton hankies. He would think this box of 16 Western-inspired handkerchiefs was pretty rad…

10. And speaking of cowboys, my son is loving his vintage cowboy i-tunes playlist, featuring men who could croon like Bing and Frank, but while riding a horse. We love Roy Rogers and Gene Autry, but our favorite is Tex Ritter. Search for his songs on i-tunes and prepare to be swept off into the sunset! I’m still working on figuring out how to share playlists with you, so for now, you’ll have to do the searching on your own. But here’s a pretty picture of Tex Ritter for you to look at:

11. And speaking of underwear (huh?), I almost died on the spot when I saw these Cath Kidston “Days of the Week” briefs for boys. The minute they go on clearance sale, they are MINE. I mean…Gideon’s.

(sorry for the tiny blurry picture – best I could do!)

(p.s. these are sadly no longer available…but still go look at them!)

12. Like the boys of the 1950’s (and probably all boys!) my son is also fascinated by simple things like paper airplanes and hand shadows. We just borrowed an amazing paper airplane book from the library, and we have a book on how to make hand shadows, but they are quite challenging. That’s why I LOVE these Moulin Roty shadow puppets, perfect for old-fashioned and imaginative nighttime fun. I also think it would be ridiculously easy to make some of your own:

13. Back to the moon, this one is made by Uncle Milton and hangs on the wall, and is quite educational as far as night lights go…but we love it because it is AWESOME, whether you are vintage or not.

14. Oh goodness, I could go on and on. But I’ll share one last book, a favorite around our house for its amazing full-page illustrations; this beloved tome captures the true adventure of the Christian life as penned by John Bunyan in Pilgrim’s Progress, and my son was captured from the very start. If your son likes adventure, and if you are looking for a foundational book in forming his Christian theology, look no further. (p.s. We had to condense it a bit for his reading comprehension).

I DO love a good shopping trip, don’t you? If you have a little boy like Gid the Kid, I hope this post helped steer you to some new shops and some helpful products.

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A friendly reminder from Mrs. Gore: let us please remember to shop wisely and cautiously and to be good stewards of our money. Even “creating an aura” for our children with all the pure love in our hearts can easily turn sinful when having and acquiring crosses the line into idolatry and excess. But alas, nobody knows that better than I…

Mrs. Gore Likes…Victorian masks

I’ve been a longtime fan and customer of the Victorian Trading Co. – many of their products stock my boxes of holiday decorations, and many stay out all year long, adding nostalgia and whimsy to my home.

I especially love their selection for children – the reproduction games and toys that are available through their catalog are old-fashioned and delightful, and mostly functional. We have wooden blocks and miniature music boxes and seemingly magical trick money banks, all of them cherished and played with often.

But nothing beats the product I want to share with you today…

I first noticed these masks when I was pregnant with Gideon, and swiftly added them to my list of wishes. I pictured winter nights around the fire with theatrics and lots of laughter; I just knew in my heart they would be, for lack of a better word, awesome.

What I didn’t know, however, was how utterly creepy they would be. I bumped into the actual masks one day at a store in Fredericksburg, Texas, and was amazed at how they transformed a face and made everyone who looked at them either gasp or exclaim or yell, followed by giggles. They are so weird and hilarious and…fantastic.

I was more determined than ever to add these masks to our arsenal of family fun.

Every year, as Christmas and birthdays rolled around, they got pushed back for other more age-appropriate gifts – toy tools and baby dolls and boardbooks – but this last year, when my sister-in-law, Amy, had the opportunity to visit the actual Victorian Trading Co. store in Lenexa, Kansas, and called to tell me they had a selection of those masks on sale, I said “Buy them!”

On Christmas morning, they sat proudly atop our mantel…

the kids were amazed, and couldn’t believe their reflections in the mirror!

The masks were put safely on our shelf for other days, but just this morning as I was pouring my second cup of coffee, Gideon asked if he might play with them. My sleepy brain really wanted to say ‘no’ but he looked so hopeful and excited, I put my coffee cup down and we tiptoed in the office together to put on a mask so he could surprise (and perhaps terrify) his sister. We whispered and laughed together and, as I tied the string at the nape of his neck, I realized that the dreams I had so many years ago when I first saw these masks had come true. They might be made of paper and string, but they inspire the incorruptible things that money can’t buy: laughter, imagination, family bonding, and innocent fun. After her initial shock at seeing her brother’s face, Rebekah wanted in on the fun. Beware: the following photos are a teensy bit creepy…

In our pajamas, we jumped in the van and drove down the hill to scare Papa. His horror and delight when he opened the van door and saw his slightly strange but t00-cool-for-school children staring solemnly and eerily at him in their masks was well worth the trouble it took to load the lot of us up. And our fun was compounded when the kids got to tiptoe into our friend Zac’s office to give him a good scare/laugh, as well.

I’m so glad I finally bought these masks and am determined to add to our collection as holiday budgets allow.

And I’m super glad that I put down that coffee cup this morning…

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I encourage you to do business with the Victorian Trading Co., especially over the telephone. They are delightful. Click here to follow a link to their masks and take a look at their other products while you’re there. You can sign up for a catalogue, too!

Or you could also click here to visit the makers of these masks, Mamelok Papercraft. I’ve only begun to peruse their collection of amazing paper products, but I did just notice they carry Beatrix Potter masks, and I’m now a little geeked out…hello, 2013 Easter baskets!!

p.s. I am not being paid by either company to share these links or products. I’m just a happy customer, spreading the news…

Mrs. Gore Likes…Busytown

Today I am adding a new category called “Mrs. Gore Likes” where I’ll share products or books with you that I have personally purchased, and that have found a spot on my favorites list. I am an Amazon Associate, so if you decide to purchase anything at Amazon by following my links, I’ll get credit. That said, I hereby pledge to never share anything in this section that I do not 100% approve of, and I will always share photographs to prove that these items really do live in my home. 

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I have alway loved to make discoveries.

Not so much in the field of science or inventions or mathematics or cartography.

More like in the field of shopping.

Just ask my friends…if you spend too many minutes in my home, you’ll soon here me say “Wanna see what I got?”

So…wanna see what I got?!

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The other day whilst making Gideon’s birthday wish list at Target, I noticed a game in the toy section that I had never seen before. It looked like a load of fun, so I wrote the name down, came home, researched the reviews at Amazon, liked what I saw, and a couple weeks later, purchased it (with free Super Saver shipping).

Great choice.

Funnest game EVER.

My favorite things about it are:

1. The players work together to win the game rather than competing against each other. This is perfect for preschoolers, who easily grow frustrated and jealous when playing board games. This game really did bring my kids together in a fun and entertaining way.  That alone puts this game at the tippy-top of my favorite kids games!

2. The instruction are wonderfully easy to follow. I hate reading instructions, as a rule. I loved reading these.

3. I actually enjoy playing this with my kids. Honestly, as much as I love my children, playing Chutes and Ladders and Candyland is like a slow death for me. But this game? I have initiated playing it twice this week.

4. Richard Scarry. Nuff said.

Without further ado, I present to you Richard Scarry’s Busytown game:

The board is super long with so many pictures to look at!

Each player takes a turn with the spinner, starting with the youngest player. If you land on a number, you move forward that many spaces, if you land on Pigs Eat, you have to remove a food item from the picnic at the end of the game (if all the food is gone before you reach it, the pigs win! OH NO!!). And my favorite part of the game, if you land on the little bug with the magnifying glass, you get to choose a card…

and flip it over. Now turn over the timer and everyone scrambles to find as many of the featured picture – in this case, flowerpots – that you can on the board. When you find one…

place one of 10 orange magnifying glasses on top of it before looking for more. When the time runs out, count how many pictures you found and the whole team moves ahead that many spaces!

Near the end of the game, all the players hop onto a large ferry and move across the river to the picnic waiting for them. Unless, of course, those pigs beat you to it and eat all the food up!

Another favorite thing about this game? That has never happened.

Richard Scarry’s Busytown. Mrs. Gores likes.