Sunday, April 13, 2014

Spring Has Sprung: Weekend in Review

A couple of things have happened around here.

1. My hair is growing like crazy and while there seems to be more gray than blonde popping through, I'm just grateful to have a layer of fuzz covering the bald. If you know someone who is shaving their head or is losing their hair during the winter months, the absolute best gift you can give is a super cute toboggan. I seriously wore mine almost the entire time we were on our Staycation a couple of weeks ago.

2. Neal graduated with his master's degree in management. He started in 2009, taking one class at a time. His graduation was postponed due to 1 deployment, the birth of 1 baby, and the shutdown of 1 government, but persistence and patience paid off and now he's a GRADYEEATE! One word: plastics. Oh, no wait. One word: HALLELUJAH! Now life can return to normal around here. I'm not sure what normal looks like but I guess we're going to be in it up to our elbows.

So, we Staycated to celebrate his graduation and we've managed to jam-pack the once-filled-with-homework weekends once again. I hope to share all of our weekend adventures with you on Monday mornings. But, of course, sometimes you need a vacation from your weekend.

Friday night, we loaded Blue, his jogging stroller (which really should have a trailer all unto itself), and a few clothes and headed north to the hometown. Being so close to "home" for 3 years really has its advantages. Door to door is only 2 hours, max. That's a huge improvement over the 8+ we've been driving for the last 4 years.

My Kentucky Monthly magazine arrived last Thursday and one of the weekend events was an Easter egg hunt at Buffalo Trace Distillery. (Also, if you are a Kentuckian and do not receive or read the Kentucky Monthly, you are truly missing out. Even if you don't live here but really like Kentucky, you should have a  subscription. Each edition is loaded with Kentucky fabulosity.) An Easter egg hunt on the grounds of a bourbon distillery? Yes, please! That's something for everyone.

Gates opened at 1 PM for this free event and when we strolled through around 1:15, someone asked the gate staff what her count was so far. 1624. So, there we were...with 1621 of our closest friends. The Easter egg "hunt" (which was less of a hunt and more of a free-for-all as the eggs were scattered in a grassy area, which was roped off to be about 50 square yards) for ages 0-4 years kicked off at 1:20. Parents were allowed to accompany their children into the egg-hunting area. Neal walked Blue through the hoards and bent down to demonstrate how to collect an Easter egg. In the meantime, parents of kids were grabbing eggs in both hands and shoving them into their kids' awaiting baskets. Neal, disgusted with the entire process, helped Blue pick up 2, then turned to me and, exasperated, said, "Let's get out of here!" I couldn't agree more.
 Neal in the bottom left corner, trying to help our 20 month old compete with the 4 year olds.

Within about 3 minutes, the entire area was clean of eggs. Not a single straggler on the field. And we looked. Twice. But Blue found 2 eggs and he was ecstatic to have that. 
We discovered later as we were wandering around, that apparently Buffalo Trace buys their eggs pre-filled....which is absolute genius.

Next up was a photo with the Easter Bunny. Somehow we missed this guy last year. We managed to squeeze in Santa, but with Neal's graduation from Captains Career Course and our move to Kentucky, there was just no time for anything fuzzy and floppy-eared. We observed Mr. Bunny from a distance and let Blue watch as kids of all ages took a turn sitting next to the big guy. Then both boys in front of us ran screaming in the opposite direction...before a single photo could be snapped. It was either going to be fine or a complete disaster.

As it turned out, it was totally fine. Blue rubbed on his white "fur" for a minute, turned to wave at the camera, and probably whispered his Easter basket wishes before we whisked him away to the next thing. The smartest thing Buffalo Trace did was to place multiple Easter bunnies throughout the park so the line for a picture was manageable. We only waited about 20 minutes. I counted 4 bunnies. That was a stellar idea and I congratulate whomever came up with it.

After a couple of minutes on the playground, where Blue was mowed over by kids bigger, older,and meaner than him, we meandered through part of the distillery.




Buffalo Trace is on the Bourbon Trail in Kentucky and plays such an important role in the town and the industry. When I was a child, my parents brought me to visit Santa here. No one seemed to mind that I was relaying my Christmas wish list on the grounds of a bourbon distillery. It was just where Santa could be found. Now they've incorporated tours, a ghost walk, a Valentine's dinner, a 5K run, Christmas lights, and an Easter egg hunt into their business model. It's breathtakingly beautiful and, quite simply, the people couldn't possibly be nicer. If I had it do over again, though, I would skip the "hunt" and go straight for the picture line! Then, perhaps, stick around for a tour and a tasting.

Sunday was church with the fam, followed up by KiteFest in Georgetown. Again, I found the information for the afternoon's festivities in Kentucky Monthly. Neal has been to KiteFest several times. I had never been, but since Big Mama purchased Mary Poppins for Blue (post-Saving Mr. Banks), we've had the lyrics "let's go fly a kite, up to the highest height" rolling around our house, getting stuck in heads and throats for days. Indeed, it was time to go fly a kite.

80 degrees and gusting wind (with a storm blowing in as I type this) is, in case you were wondering, perfect kite-flying weather. All manner and designs of kites flew overhead for several hours...catching wind and sailing off before falling into a quiet spot and sinking to the grass.
Our friends, Mr. Larry and Ms. Martha came out for fun and flying. And also to hold the string when Blue decided to let go.
Our friends Mr. Ranjit, Ms. Rekah (about to burst with the newest family addition), and Miss A are great kite-fliers! I don't know what I was doing at 8 months pregnant but I don't think I was at any festivals. Cheers to you, Ms. Rekah! With this light-wind kite, I had great success keeping it in the air, even when it crossed lines with other kites (which I'm sure is poor kite-flying etiquette but everyone was too nice to mention it). However,  I kept a firm grip on this one since, when the wind blew, it really responded. I needed Blue to try very hard not to float away today.

 Daddy says, "Time to see what this dragon can do!"
Although Neal managed to keep it soaring for about 5 minutes, the heavy nature of the kite needed more wind. Our dragon dive-crashed near some fellow kite-flyers. It was time to return the dragon to his lair. Neal's last challenge was to assemble a tri-plane kite...and find a spot to fly it.
 Up, up, and away!

 Never stop moving with a tri-plane. Keep moving, keep flying.
Boys admiring their handiwork. Yes, you masters of kite-flying, show us how it's done!
 It's so hard to say goodbye, but Blue got a farewell kiss from Lady A. What a perfect end to the day!

Proof that I was actually at the KiteFest this year. I handed the camera to Neal. Apparently, he got distracted and forgot to take a single one of my front. The others were rear shots which, I'm sorry, should be illegal. Also, 3-way mirrors have no place in American society. No one wants to see back there. It's like the Arizona desert...flat and wide. End of story.

Regardless if you have have a tri-plane or a handmade or no kite at all, everyone is welcome to the KiteFest and Culture Festival in Geogetown!
If you go next year:
1. Parking is $6 and cash only. 
2. Bathrooms are porta-potties. Plan accordingly. 
3. There is also facepainting, food, and a pretty fabulous bouncy house. 
4. Food for purchase is available. 

It's hard to screw up KiteFest. Add 3 cups of gorgeous weather, 2 tsps of gusting breezes and a sprinkle of effort and you've got yourself a sky full of dancing color. But the good people of Cardome have made it nearly flawless. I can't wait until next year!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Easy, Breezy, Beautiful...

Remember that one time when I saw a poster in a community center about a head shaving fundraiser for pediatric cancer research? Can you believe that was just 4 weeks ago? Four weeks, people. Do you know what we did in 4 weeks?
  • Convinced someone I've never actually met face-to-face to not only shave her head, but also her son's head.
  • Enlisted the help of a few amazing women. They held Thirty-One and Stampin Up parties to benefit St. Baldrick's Foundation and designed the logo we used for our Facebook page and t-shirts. 
  • Shamelessly drafted crafty friends and business owners to donate to our online auction.
  • Held an online auction that included everything from cookies to photography to handmade goods to a Coach purse. That little auction raised over $1200! 
  • Raised $5570 for pediatric cancer research. Five thousand, five hundred and seventy dollars. That's more than 2 of our cars are worth. That's mind blowing. And as I looked through our donor list, so many of those were $10 here, $20 there. It's irrefutable proof that, although you are but one person, you can make a noticeable difference. It's also humbling to note that many of our donors contributed, even though they have not been touched personally by pediatric cancer. We all have the charities that speak to our heart - ones that represent our own struggles and the battles of our loved ones. It's difficult to find extra cash to support anything outside of those charities, but you all did and in an overwhelmingly generous way.
In the hours leading up to the head shaving event in Elizabethtown, KY on Saturday, my phone started exploding with texts.
Are you nervous?
When are you going?
Are you there yet?
What if it doesn't grow back?
How long will you keep it shaved? 
And so on and so forth. Blue napped a whopping 30 minutes and Mama Virgo arrived an hour ahead of schedule. Neal was trying to write a paper and I still hadn't showered. There wasn't much time to worry about if I had a perfectly shaped head under there or if it was going to reveal a tattoo I didn't remember getting in college. We just went.

This is the shirt I created on CafePress.com. On the front pocket is our precious little Pixie Chicks logo. And black yoga pants to complete the ensemble. Note to future participants: maybe not wear black pants if your child is going to sit in your lap during the shave. I walked out with mohair yoga pants.

It was particularly entertaining to inform Neal that he and Blue would be getting shaved, too. Oh, we are? 
Blue waved his approval. Yes, you are. Let me sign you up.
And then there was an obligatory BEFORE picture in front of the green screen...
And then it was time to stand in line. Fortunately, Saturday was sandwiched between gusty and 50 degrees on Friday and 28 degrees and sleet snow on Sunday. It was the perfect 65 and sunny. So, Blue and Neal explored the gravel in the parking lot while I held our spot, inching ever closer to the stage.
These head shaving events are held in all kinds of environments...from Irish pubs (like the event in Phoenix where Brooke was texting me pictures from last Saturday) to front lawns to high school gyms to our very own community center. As I was lamenting to Brooke in a text from my spot in line that I wished there was more ambiance, more attention paid to why shavees were there and who they were honoring, she reminded me that I could bring my own ambiance. One dedicated MC screaming into a mic over 200 chattering attendees wasn't exactly how I imagined my big day would go, but Brooke was right...bring it yoself, Allyson! I had expected to be moved to tears over shavees and their honorees, but when I looked around, what I saw was excitement. Men, women and children everywhere were gathered in clumps, laughing and hugging and cheering each other on. No one was bored or unhappy about being there. There was life inside this little community center. Many shavees were honoring their angels, but they brought courage and energy with them to the stage. There's your ambiance, Allyson. It's not speeches and Bette Midler, but it is perfect.

As I crawled ever closer to the front, a cluster of orange took the stage. This was Addie's Army. They were the number 1 fundraising team for our event (I'm pleased as pickles to say that Pixie Chicks was #2) and represented men, women and children from one of the local lodges.
And taking the stage with them was Addie herself! She is just a twee bit older than Blue and was diagnosed with Leukemia. That's her mom, wearing an Addie's Army t-shirt, holding her.
They gave her the clippers and let her go to town on one of the women in her army. Unlike Blue with a pair of clippers, she shaved only hair and not also ears, eyebrows or the jugular.

Since Addie is in treatment right now, I figured they would leave soon after her team was shaved, so I grabbed Blue and asked for a picture with her.
I now know this look as The Toddler Once-Over. They all do it. And it's pretty funny to watch. It's really the only time I wish they walked around with little thought bubbles over their heads.
Blue, functioning on 1/3 of a nap, had no interest in following any directions I gave him, but Addie looked right at the camera and gave the biggest, most adorable smile I've ever seen. She was absolutely the belle of that ball and I am praying for her everyday. Her family has a Facebook fan page called Addie's Army and I urge you to "like" it and to follow her journey. She seems to be doing fairly well (although she will continue to receive chemo for about 2 years) and she truly does have an army of supporters. I'm so glad that the Miller Family is in that army now!

After our photo op, it was time for one Pixie Chick and her family to take the stage. Mama Virgo, armed with only a video camera and her cell phone, got one blurry shot of Neal in the chair (which was somewhat anti-climactic because he came out looking exactly like he did when he went in) and about 20 minutes of video of me and Blue. Neal took the rest of these with his cell phone, but there was a lady from St. Baldrick's with a serious camera and lens who was completely eat up with Blue. I'm fairly certain there will be some professional photos of the 2 of us floating around somewhere on the Internet.
Dividing it out into pony tails so that it can be donated for wigs.
Lop, lop, lop...there it goes!
I kind of really love this picture because, after 18 months of me using my pinkie nail to dig boogers out of Blue's nose, he has, just this week, discovered he can do it, too. I want to always remember the week he discovered that he can fit his little baby finger up his little baby nostril and find gold. And also, this is my Dumb & Dumber cut. I decided we should keep going.
There goes one side! I should also note that the lady shaving my head is one of the hair stylists from my regular salon. When I popped in on Thursday to get my eyebrows waxed (if I'm not going to have any hair, at least I can have great eyebrows), she and I talked about Saturday. I'm so glad that fate put us in her chair.

This one, although blurry, is for my friend Fred - who desperately wanted a photo of Ally in a mullet. Because I was donating my hair, I couldn't get to mullet, but Miley Cyrus is a close second, yes?
Going...
going...
Gone! And now it's Blue's turn! By the way, the toddler hair cut cape is beyond precious and I want one!
Blue was far more enamored with throwing clumps of his hair on the floor than with the actual shaving of his head.
Getting the last little bits. And yes, his hair was all over me...in my eyes and stuck to my lip gloss and we've already discussed my pants.
A caped crusader fighting childhood cancer.
I absolutely adore this photo and I hope that someone somewhere out there has a better photo of it.
It's a fistbump for fighting cancer!
Yep, Blue...there's a breeze up there now. But think about how great it will feel in July!
I may not have broken Twitter, but I think I still gave Ellen a run for her money in the Selfie category.
The Miller Three. Mission Accomplished!

During the past month, the child of a biffy's mom's co-worker was diagnosed with a very aggressive cancer. He was admitted immediately into Children's Hospital in Cincinnati and began treatment. And thousands more were diagnosed and began their own treatment. Funding research that will lead to a cure is important. Saving a child's life is important. Involving my family is important. And today, my hair? Is not that important. 

I will be asking Traci to share her story with you all this week. Her husband, Brian, shaved her head on Saturday night and she can rock a bald head like no one I've ever seen. One of her sons also got in on the action. I love our boys and their bald heads and I love that they love their bald mamas.





















Friday, March 7, 2014

Shirley Temple Friday: Honoring Claire

I am so grateful to Claire's mommy, Stephanie, for taking the time to share their family's story. As you will read, Claire was recently diagnosed and so they've spent the past 3 months in and out of the hospital. I imagine that many things take a back-seat when you are knee-deep in a battle for your child's life. Thank you, Stephanie, for taking time from something else so that we can help raise awareness about the need for a cure for pediatric cancer. 

Claire was diagnosed with Stage III Wilm's Tumor December 17, 2013. The tumor was found in her L Kidney about the size of a grapefruit. Her pediatrician found it while she had a Urinary Tract Infection that was not getting better while on Bactrim. We are now at 79 days of treatment as of March 4, 2014. She has had 12 radiation therapy treatments. Our family is counting down the days till Mid -July Beginning of August when her chemo will be over. We call her chemo treatment "killing the dragon." The dragon is the cancer. Her chemo medicine helps to "kill the dragon." Cancer is a big concept for a 5 year old. Although she has lost her hair, she does not seem to mind it much. She is our little trooper. My husband and I are exhausted, but we are hoping she will regain her strength and someday have a normal life.

Claire had not had any broken bones, doctor visits, or any other unusual sicknesses up until now. Claire is a happy, playful child who loves the color pink, Disney princesses, riding her bicycle when the weather is warm, listening to the music soundtrack Frozen, and attending preschool with her friends. She loves to help her mommy in the kitchen especially when I am cooking. She has really missed her friends during all of her stays in the hospital. Her favorite song in the movie Frozen is "Let it go." It is freeing to her, because in some small way she is letting go of being scared in the hospital. So simple but so meaningful. We are looking forward to her next chapter in her life which we know will be bright.

This photo is of Claire at the Her Knight Dance 2014 during chemo treatment this year. She is and felt like such a princess there.


 The other two are of Claire at the beach in October 2013 pre cancer treatment.

What a beautiful smile on a precious little girl. I think Claire has a bright future, too, Stephanie! And the Miller Family is praying for you...for peace and strength during the difficult days and for Claire to always light up the room with her smile as she does in these pictures.

I know I've made it nearly impossible to comment on my blog, but if you have a few minutes and can figure it out, I would love to receive some words of encouragement and love for this family in the midst of their dark days.

Today marks the beginning of The Pixie Chicks' Facebook Auction to Benefit St. Baldrick's. There are nearly 50 items up for auction and they range from designer purses to fresh-baked cookies to handmade accessories...with so much more in between! Check the Facebook page for official rules of the auction. Bidding begins at 8 AM EST on Friday 7 March and ends at 9 PM EST on Sunday 9 March. 100% of the winning bids benefits St. Baldrick's Foundation. Thank you for looking, for bidding, and for honoring Claire today and everyday!

Friday, February 28, 2014

Just the Average Mama Bear

I am having a hard time wrapping my mind around the date. A week from today begins the auction to benefit the St. Baldrick's Foundation. A week later, I'll be preparing for an intense new haircut. It's almost here and yet just last week it felt like a lifetime away. While Traci and are I scurrying about to get photos for the auction items collected and emails sent and updates posted, I must also stop to reflect on the past week or 2...especially in light of our new graphic:

When I emailed Kay and quite brazenly asked her to donate a design to represent our fundraising efforts, she not only accepted, but she exceeded every expectation I could even imagine. Without any real vision of what I wanted, I realized that this is exactly what I wanted. The simplicity in this design is genius - just 2 women joined by a passion. Yeah, yeah...we are super skinny and my belly shirt days are barely memorable (I actually prefer my avatar to reflect how I see myself, not necessarily how others see me. I see myself as a trendy, svelte, self-confident broad. This chick is all that and more)...but the idea that 2 average moms can join hands and hearts to bring awareness (and money) to a most worthy cause is a defining moment for me. I am one voice and Traci is one voice, but together we've moved almost 200 people to join the fan page and rally behind children and young adults who are battling or have battled cancer. We are not Angelina Jolie or Mother Theresa. We don't make grand speeches to standing room only crowds or plan elaborate galas with champagne (although I am certainly open to that for next year). We have a fan page and we know some people and some of those people are crafty.

I've been asked several times why. Pediatric cancer has not struck any of my children nor any children that I know personally. I found myself fumbling for the words to explain why, without reason or logic, I felt drawn...called...to do this. But then our pastor preached to my heart this past Sunday. (And Blue, who I assume was controlled by divine intervention, managed to stay in the nursery without a meltdown for the entire sermon.)

Please allow me to drop some verse on you.

By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring light to it. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person's work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved - even though only as one escaping through the flames.
1 Corinthians 3:10-15

Each one of us is building on the foundation that has been laid and we can decide everyday to use hay or precious stones. We are building upon the day before and laying the groundwork for the next day. We are constructing side-by-side friends and family but also the janitor at our children's school, the bus driver who picks up the next door neighbor every morning, the city council member we see on local TV, the crew laying and repairing our roads, and the homeless population that camps around the downtown park. We are all united because we are all on this earth. Regardless of our race, religion, choice of spouse, political beliefs, philosophical beliefs, total lack of beliefs, we are all in this together, building upon a rock foundation. And I am one person who chooses one building material but if I choose hay, that will not support the person next to me who has chosen gold. If I use gold, it will reinforce whatever material another chooses, be it sand or silver. Perhaps my decision will influence another and those around me will trade in their wood for brick and diamonds and we will, together, construct a most magnificent temple atop our foundation.

And this is why. We are united, even when we feel alone, even when we discriminate against others. We support one another and brace one another and reinforce one another so that we may build a sturdy world. Not a sturdy America, a sturdy world. I don't always choose wisely, but I try. Everyday I get up and I try. And so to the parents and families and friends of children and young adults who have been diagnosed with cancer, I say to you "let me build your part for awhile. I promise to choose well. I promise it will stand strong against the wind and will remain for years to come. You rest up for the battle. I've got this." That's why we fund research. That's why we shave our heads and donate all of our hair. That's why.

The Servant Song by Richard Gillard
We are pilgrims on the journey
We are brothers on the road
We are here to help each other
Walk the mile and bear the load

I will hold the Christ light for you
In the night time of your fear
I will hold my hand out to you
Speak the the peace you long to hear.

I will weep when you are weeping
When you laugh, I’ll laugh with you
I will share your joy and sorrow
Till we’ve seen this journey through.

 Cheers and be kind to one another. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

I've Been Called Worse

Bag Lady
Basket Mama
Hoarder

Although, to be fair, I only hoard for documenting purposes. I haven't saved every movie ticket stub since high school, but I do have a pretty hefty stack of national parks brochures.

Hello...my name is Ally and I love bags. 

I love bags and totes and purses and anything with a zipper and 2 handles, really. Or even one handle. I especially love it if there are pantloads of pockets and pockets within pockets. I have been known to organize my things inside of a bag, inside of another bag, inside of another bag. I knew that I had met my soul mate when a box arrived from ebags.com. Neal had purchased a stack of organizing bags to put within a suitcase. Yes...bag-mates forever.

So, naturally, when a high school friend of mine opened her Thirty-One business a couple of years ago, I was intrigued. Bags. Cute bags. I immediately ordered a beach tote for my sister's birthday.
This is Thirty-One's Awesome Blossom tote with monogramming on the front. Lots of pockets, a keychain clip, and nice long handles for carrying.

And I had plans. Big plans. But then it was time to move...again...and we were just barely under our allowed weight per big-A Army so all of my bag-buying plans came to a screeching halt.

But now I can buy bags and benefit a worthy cause. A friend of Traci's (aptly also named Allison...we'll let it go that she spells it with that crazy "i" stuck in there) has opened a Thirty-One party to benefit St. Baldrick's Foundation via The Pixie Chicks! Proceeds will benefit our fundraising efforts through the end of February and into next month. I'm so over the moon, I'm going to have the most impossible time trying to pick one item. And since there is a different special each month (February's special is the Zip-Top Organizing Utility Tote in "Bold Bloom" for $10 when you spend $35. Plus monogramming is only $5.), I may have to pick up two items.

This is the Zip-Top Organizing Utility Tote:
7 pockets and a zipper. Yes, it's a good thing.

The best part about this bag is that there is a lot of pink, making it less likely that Neal will commandeer it at some point. It's so handy with all of the pockets that I can see him getting a bit drooly over it, but bursting blooms of pink may be just enough of a deterrent. This tote also comes in a lovely nautical print...
But this would find its way into his hot little hands in no time. 

So, what kind of fabulous can you find for around $35 in the Thirty-One catalog? (Because I know it's for a good cause...but I also know we just had Christmas and Valentine's Day and some AmExs are still kind of smokin'. Although, let me remind you that Mother's Day is literally just around the corner.) 
The Large Utility Tote 
$35
 Approx. 11.75"H x 21.5"W x 10"D
 
There are about 10 color and pattern combinations to choose from, but I picked blue because this is the one I'll be buying. GO UK! My initials are going to be just gorgeous on this Big Blue bag. It's also collapsible for easy storage. We order our fruits and vegetables from a CSA called Bountiful Baskets and twice a month, I meet at the Lions Club hall in the neighboring town to pick up the week's delivery. I take a laundry basket. There are a couple of women there who use these totes to pick up their food. I hope they haven't noticed me staring and lusting. But I'm going to rectify that soon...so very soon. 

When I was pregnant and designing Blue's nursery, I knew there would be a need for baskets and bins and lots of hidden storage. The special that month was on the mini utility bin so I stocked up. 
Mini Utility Bin
$22.00
 10”H x 8”W x 8”D
I have 3 of these and I can't believe how handy they've been in the last 2 years. Although I had "diapers" and "bath time" and "toys" embroidered on them, they are used throughout the house for many more purposes. Currently, the "diapers" bin holds the play food in his kitchen and the "bath time" bin stores all of the sentimental baby items we've picked up along the way. Blue can be a destructive force to anything with stitching, but these bins look just as good as the day they arrived. I love the new Black Cross Pop design (featured above) and it just proves that Thirty-One can produce bright, trendy patterns or more neutral, subtle prints...a little something for everyone.

Picnic Essentials
$55.00
I'm completely intrigued by the new line of picnic accessories that Thirty-One has started offering. There's this Picnic Essentials bag, a Picnic Party Set ($60), a lawn blanket and wine tote ($58), and a larger picnic bag and small round tote ($75), but there are no descriptions on the product pages. If any of the Thirty-One consultants would like to comment on the size or design of these, please do so in the comments and I'll publish it ASAP. Basically, since our trip to Paris during Neal's last deployment, I've been thinking how lovely it would be to have a mid-week picnic dinner in the park a couple of times each month. Now that the weather is finally starting to warm and I've found a nature preserve right outside of the Ft. Knox gates, all I need is a picnic bag. Bingo! Have plastic plates, wine, and fried chicken...will travel!

When Traci posted the flier advertising the Thirty-One party, I saw several ladies comment on this little beauty:
Euro Straw Tote
$55.00
Comes in coral or turquoise stripe

It features a tie closure, an interior zipper pocket, a lobster claw, and 2 interior flat pockets. And it is the perfect beach/pool bag for the summer. My most difficult decision will be trying to choose a color. This is probably my favorite Thirty-One product to date.

The last item on my current shopping list is the About Town blanket. It features waterproof nylon on one side and soft fleece on the other. It folds, fastens and can be toted around by the handle. I wish I had owned this when Shana, Blue and I were picnicking our way across NYC last summer. When the weather is warm, we often find ourselves popping a squat in parks, gardens, and nature preserves, but rarely do we have something to sit on...something to keep the ants from meandering up my shorts. This will be simply perfect.
About Town Blanket
$40.00
Measures approx: 60”H x 38”W
So, that's my Thirty-One wish list as of right now. There are SO many more items to choose from, though...from key fobs and wristlets and stationary to weekender bags (some on wheels), purses, and thermal totes. The prices range from $5 to a couple hundred (I think the Weekender is $180) and it all benefits St. Baldrick's Foundation and their mission to cure pediatric cancer through innovative and effective research. I can't imagine a better reason to go shopping.

To peruse the party catalog or to treat yourself, go here. Give The Pixie Chicks a "like" on Facebook to stay informed of our fundraising goals, the online craft auction, and kids we are honoring. You can also donate through our St. Baldrick's team page.

Thank you for your support of our cause and for shopping with Thirty-One!