holiday crunch time

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Here we are! It’s so close to Christmas we can almost taste Santa’s cookies, yet there is so much still to be done… If you’re also feeling the panting breath of reindeer hot on your back, we are here with some last minute holiday help. Host an intimate gathering for family and friends with a simple soup bar. Rock around your Christmas tree with our party playlist. Bake cookies for St. Nick and toss up some reindeer food using magical ingredients from your pantry. Last minute gifts and an easy Christmas breakfast? We’ve got you covered.

This time of year should fill your heart with joy– not stress! So slow down, relax and try not to freak when your two-year-old reorganizes all low hanging ornaments and unwraps the decorative gifts under the tree. These days are fleeting, so make your memories simple and sweet.


Host a Chili + Soup Gathering This Week!

Picture it: early evening, twinkling white lights on a simple tree, crisp winter air, cable knit scarves around the necks of good friends, and steaming mugs of soup (topped with cheese, fresh herbs, and croutons) warming your hands. Sounds like Heaven to me. And the best part? Soups, stews and chilis are some of the easiest comfort foods to make. Set up a large table with crockpots or punch bowls filled with your favorite soups. Place your favorite toppings nearby and serve in large mugs or small bowls. Guests can mingle and eat, and you can relax. Try our mom’s Broccoli Artichoke Soup (see here) or one of the great recipes below!

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What you’ll need:

  • Crock pots (or large serving bowls or punch bowls to accommodate your soups). If you don’t plan to serve them immediately, you can also keep them on the stove in their pots and serve directly from there.
  • Large mugs (or small bowls) for serving
  • Spoons
  • Toppings placed in small serving bowls (shredded cheese, scallions, bacon crumbles, sour cream, fresh herbs, croutons or soup crackers, or whatever you love)
  • Friends and family

You can also set up a drink station with juice boxes, water, and egg nog for the kids- and a signature sip for the adults. Let each guest bring a dessert. Have fun with it! The goal of this type of gathering is to enjoy one another. Our family invitation was sent via text and the dress code is Christmas Pajamas or Ugly Christmas Sweater (best dressed wins a prize!). Simple, delicious, and such a great time.

Browned Butter Cauliflower Soup (via Love & Olive Oil)

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Ingredients:

1 head (approx. 2 pounds) cauliflower
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 leek, white and light green parts only, halved and thinly sliced
1 small onion, halved and thinly sliced
salt & pepper
4 1/2 cups water (I used 2 cups chicken broth & 2.5 cups water)
1/2 teaspoon white wine or sherry vinegar
3 tablespoons fresh chives, snipped

Directions:

  1. Trim the cauliflower, removing any green leaves and leaf stems. Remove stem and core; trim and slice into thin pieces. Cut 1 1/2 cups of small florets and set aside for later. Coarsely cut the rest of cauliflower into thick slices and chunks.
  2. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter into a large saucepan set over medium low heat. Add onion, leek, and a pinch of salt and saute until softened, about 7-10 minutes.
  3. Add water (or chicken broth) and increase heat to high. Add the half the cauliflower chunks and the stem pieces; bring to a boil, then reduce heat to maintain a simmer. Let simmer gently for 15 minutes, then add other remaining cauliflower chunks and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until cauliflower is crumbly and tender.
  4. Meanwhile, melt the remaining 5 tablespoons of butter in a pan. When butter is melted and frothy, add the reserved florets. Cook over medium heat until the florets and the butter are both browned, stirring occasionally, about 12 to 14 minutes minutes. Transfer the florets with a slotted spoon to a small bowl; toss with vinegar and coarse sea salt. Pour browned butter into a small bowl and set aside.
  5. Ladle soup into blender and puree until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids). Return soup to the saucepan over medium-low heat until heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Additionally, you may choose to add up to a 1/2 cup more of water if desired for a thinner consistency (I had to do this). To serve, ladle into serving mugs or bowls and garnish with florets, snipped chives, and freshly ground black pepper; drizzle with browned butter and serve.

Mitch’s Chicken Noodle Soup (thanks, Jackie!)

  • 1 Whole Chicken
  • 3 qt. low-sodium chicken broth
  • 6 carrots
  • 4 stalk celery
  • 3 medium onions
  • 5 black peppercorns
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 10 sprig parsley
  • 2 sprig thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 4 leeks
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. fresh-ground pepper
  • 3 c. medium egg noodles

Directions

1. Make the stock: Place the chicken and chicken broth in a large stockpot and set it over medium heat. Roughly chop 2 carrots, 2 celery ribs, and 1 onion and add to the broth. Add the peppercorns, garlic, 2 sprigs of parsley, thyme, bay leaf, and enough water to just cover the chicken. Bring the broth to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until the chicken is very tender — about 1 1/4 hours — skimming the surface periodically. Remove the chicken and place in a large bowl. Strain the broth through a very fine sieve into a large, clean bowl or stockpot. Discard the vegetables.

2. Make the soup: Skim any fat off the top of the strained broth and discard. Slice the remaining carrots, celery, onions, and leeks into 1/4-inch-thick pieces and set aside. Remove and discard the skin and bones from the chicken, cut meat into 1/2-inch pieces, and set aside. Chop the remaining parsley leaves and set aside. Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the vegetables and cook until the onions are translucent — about 7 minutes. Add the chicken, the reserved broth, salt, and pepper. Simmer the soup until the vegetables are tender — about 1 hour. Stir in the egg noodles and parsley and cook until the noodles are tender — about 10 more minutes. Serve hot with crusty bread and fresh parsley.

Slow Cooker Broccoli Cheese Soup

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 5 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups milk (I like fat free half & half, use your favorite. The higher the fat content – such as heavy cream – the creamier and richer your soup will be)
  • 3 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth for vegetarian)
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 3-4 cups chopped broccoli florets (just the bushy tops – discard the stems or use them for another recipe)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 2 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (yellow)
  • 2 teaspoons salt (or to taste)
  • 1-4 teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)
  • optional: extra cheese for topping
  1. In a large sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat. When melted, stir in the flour until mixture clumps up. Very gradually whisk in the milk until all milk has been added and a thick white sauce forms.
  2. Add chopped onions, broccoli, garlic, Italian seasoning, and cream cheese to your slow cooker. Add the sauce from the pan, and the chicken broth. Stir to combine. Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 4-6 hours.
  3. Uncover soup and add the sharp cheddar cheese, salt, and pepper. Stir until the cheese melts into the soup. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Serve warm and top with additional shredded cheese if desired. Enjoy!

Chili For a Crowd (from Real Simple Magazine)

  • tablespoon olive oil
  • onions, chopped
  • bell peppers, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • cloves garlic, chopped
  • pounds ground beef
  • 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • teaspoons ground cumin
  • 12-ounce bottles lager beer
  • 19-ounce cans kidney beans
  • 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • corn bread
  • toppings (such as sour cream, radishes, scallions, avocados, jalapenos, cilantro, Cheddar, and toasted pumpkin seeds)
  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions, bell peppers, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 6 to 8 minutes.
  2. Add the beef and cook, breaking it up with a spoon, until no longer pink, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the tomato paste, chili powder, and cumin and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the beer, beans, the tomatoes and their juices, 2 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve with the corn bread and toppings as desired.

     Mood Music for the Holidays

We’ve asked our staff to provide their very favorite holiday tunes, and here they are!

And here are some others we like:


Magic Reindeer Food

Ingredients: 1 cup cereal flakes, 1/4 cup raisins, 1/4 cups nuts, 4 tablespoons green sugar, 4 tablespoons red sugar

Step 1: Combine all ingredients in a bowl.

Step 2: Store in a zip-lock bag (and make extra baggies for neighbors and friends– attach the poem below).

Step 3: Spread on your lawn Christmas Eve or place in a cup next to Santa’s cookies. Leave a note for Santa so he knows it’s for his reindeer.

Magic Reindeer Food Poem:

Sprinkle on your lawn Christmas Eve night. The moon will make it sparkle bright. Santa’s reindeer fly and roam. This will help them find your home.

Cookies for Santa

We slice and bake around here (ha!) then let the kids decorate with icing and sprinkles. If you would rather bake something more impressive, here’s a great recipe that Santa will surely appreciate!

Snickerdoodles (by Emeril Lagasse):

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar, plus 3 tablespoons
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt into a bowl.

With a handheld or standing mixer, beat together the shortening and butter. Add the 1 1/2 cups sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour mixture and blend until smooth.

Mix the 3 tablespoons sugar with the cinnamon in a small bowl. Roll the dough, by hand, into 1 1/2-inch balls. Roll the balls in the cinnamon sugar. Flatten the balls into 1/2-inch thick disks, spacing them evenly on unlined cookie sheets. Bake until light brown, but still moist in the center, about 12 minutes. Cool on a rack.


Last Minute Gifts They’ll Love

If you still need gifts for the loved ones in your life, it is probably too late to order them online (even Amazon Prime!). Never fear, there are plenty of options available locally– wherever in the world you are.

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Here are some of our favorite gifts:

  • Cashmere infinity scarves and gloves: these are available in most department stores and boutiques– even T.J. Maxx sometimes. Cashmere is pricier than other options, but it is warm and luxurious. Tie them up with twine and a decorative bell for a cozy treat.
  • Simple jewelry: available at most boutiques and department stores in a range of prices, necklaces and/or earrings make a sweet gift. Go classic with a dainty gold or silver chain and teeny cross or semi precious stone. Package in a simple kraft box tied up with baker’s twine for an easy (and elegant) look.
  • Gift certificates: they may seem impersonal to you, but your the recipient will LOVE having the gift of choice! For the man in your life, J.Hilburn will customize a shirt (or pants and suits!) to his exact measurements. They’re pretty awesome, even for the pickiest guys. Through the website you can find a stylist in your area who will measure and place your order (thanks, Candy, for keeping Seth well dressed!).
  • Monthly Clubs: From pears and nuts to wine and cigars, there is a monthly club for everyone. Google his or her favorite thing and you’ll likely stumble upon a delivery service for it.
  • Magazine Subscriptions: Who doesn’t love magazines? Relatively inexpensive and the gift that keeps on giving!
  • Homemade food items: When all else fails, bake! People love to receive homemade goodies. Or step it up a notch– bake cookies and attach the family recipe with baker’s twine. Do you make the world’s best ribs? Whip up the rub, toss it into small mason jars and gift them along with your recipe. Present a casserole in a lovely dish meant for keeping. So many options, and so much to love.
  • Coloring books and nice colored pencils: yes, even for adults! The gorgeous selection of adult coloring books is huge (and growing). Give the gift of creativity and stress relief!
  • Wine: the ultimate hostess gift. Add a pretty wine stopper or glass decanter for an even more special presentation.
  • Flowers: Another great hostess gift! Arrange store bought flowers in a large mason jar. Cut stems to make the arrangement appear fuller. Instant ambiance.
  • Coffee & Mugs: Grab your favorite coffee and 6 pretty mugs. Stash them in a pretty basket with stirrers and scones.

We know you have even more ideas and we would love to hear them! What are your go-to gifts?


Now that we have presents and parties covered, let’s move on the Christmas morning breakfast! Shannon says this casserole is easy and DELICIOUS! Sounds like a winner to me!

Christmas Morning Casserole

  • 1 package of crescent rolls
  • 1 package of maple breakfast sausage (ground)
  • 1 stick of cream cheese
  • 1 bag of shredded cheddar cheese

Cook sausage in a skillet until browned. Add stick of cream cheese and stir until well blended. Flatten crescent rolls in a single layer on the bottom of a pan. Pour sausage / cream cheese mixture into crust and cover with shredded cheese. Place more crescent rolls over the top and bake at 350 until rolls are browned.


Think that about covers it!

We truly hope you have the happiest holidays making precious memories with your friends and families. We cannot wait to see you in the new year. <3

the little den + thanksgiving

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It shouldn’t come as a shock that Shannon and I love children as we daily wrangle our combined eleven kids, some days (secretly and perhaps a little crazily) dreaming of adding to the bunch. But aren’t we called to extend our hearts beyond our own families and into a starving world? The recent tragedies in Paris and across the globe have made the truth more clear than ever… we are citizens of the world and together we can make a difference.

Much of our clothing line is crafted in India, so we have a special fondness for the country and its people. Sadly, many orphaned Indian children live on the streets where food is scarce and adult protection even more so… Their reality is so far removed from my daily life that unless I FORCE myself to see it, I can go right along with my day: fretting over fabric swatches, shipping delays, children who pick the carrots from their beef stew, laundry that never seems to end… Meanwhile, a precious little girl (no different than one of my own!) sleeps under a palm tree, longing for broth, a bed, and a roof over her head.

For years we have been called to do something without knowing where to start. So it seemed like fate to discover, through personal friends, a program that will help us build a home for orphaned children in India. After a lot of back and forth, a plan is now in motion. In June, 25 children will be given a second chance. “The Little Den” will become their new home– a new beginning with real meals, cozy beds, responsible caretakers, and fresh water. To say we are excited is an understatement.

We can’t change the whole world overnight, but with your help we are changing the world for twenty five little people and that is a great start.

Join us on Thursday for the sale of our commemorative Little Den dresses (Wildling Club Members, a portion of the proceeds from your November “Little Den” dress was already set aside for this, so thank you!). With Thanksgiving looming on the horizon, what a perfect time to express our gratitude to all of you! Without our amazing customers, none of this would be possible so thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!

On that note, what are your favorite Thanksgiving traditions? We’ve asked each WDW team member to share a favorite holiday recipe and tradition with you. We hope you enjoy!

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Sally (shipping)

Broccoli Artichoke Soup

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 can artichokes
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 pint sour cream
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 box frozen broccoli
  • 1 can chicken broth

Saute onions in butter. Add broth and broccoli. Cook over medium heat until simmering. Add chopped and drained artichokes. Cook until warmed. Add soup and sour cream and stir to combine. Heat to a simmer and serve with toasty french bread.

“My favorite memory of Thanksgiving was having the whole family together and stuffing ourselves until we felt sick at lunch– then doing it again at dinner!”


Sandy (shipping)

Corn and Greenbean Casserole

  • 1 can white shoepeg corn (drained)
  • 1 can french style green beans (drained)
  • 1 can cream of celery soup
  • 1- 8 oz container of sour cream
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese (colby or cheddar)

Topping

  • 1 roll of crushed ritz crackers
  • 1 stick of melted butter

Mix filling in a baking dish. In a separate bowl combine crackers and butter. Sprinkle cracker/butter combo on top of corn and green bean mixture. Bake at 350 until bubbling.

“Ok this is my favorite Thanksgiving memory… Thanksgiving has always been a little stressful for me because there’s so much preparation involved. When I got a new daughter-in-law, she rolled up her sleeves & pitched in with the cooking, the cleaning, and the decorating. What a help it was to me & my daughter that there was another helpful sweet hand!”


Laurie (shipping)

Thanksgiving Dressing

  • 3 lbs ground round
  • 1 bag frozen seasoning mix (onions, peppers, celery)
  • salt, pepper, garlic
  • 2 loaves of toasted french bread
  • chopped fresh parsley
  • Italian bread crumbs to put on top

Soak toasted french bread in enough water or milk to cover it. Brown ground beef in a large pan. Add seasoning mix to browned beef and cook through. Drain and squeeze liquid from soaked toast and add to meat and seasoning pan. Cook until all is mixed together well. Add seasonings (salt, pepper, garlic salt) to your taste. Add chopped fresh parsley and top with Italian bread crumbs. Bake at 350 until heated through.

Side note: Dressing is better if you do it ahead of time and freeze it.On Turkey Day just add bread crumbs and bake.

“I think my most memorable thanksgiving was when we all celebrated together at our camp in Folsom. My mother, my mother in law and father in law, all of my brothers and sisters and Donald’s brothers and sister and families. It was such a wonderful time and it was the last thanksgiving that we celebrated with our beloved Mac.”


Lisa (shipping)

Cheese Dollars

  • 1/2 lb. Oleo
  • 1- 10 oz package sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • hot pepper sauce to taste
  • pecans or other favorite nut
  • 2 tsp. salt

Blend all ingredients well. Roll into long roll in plastic wrap.

Refrigerate at least 24 hours, but will keep well for about two weeks.

When ready to bake, remove from refrigerator and cut thin immediately. Place pecan half (your favorite nut can be substituted) in center.

Bake at 350 in preheated oven until the underside is brown (lift slightly with a spatula to check).

Place on waxed paper immediately upon removal from oven or on flat plate in a single layer to cool.


Andrea (shipping)

Greenbean & Artichoke Casserole

  • 6 cans of french style greenbeans
  • 3-4 cans of artichokes, chopped
  • 16 oz olive oil
  • 16 oz Italian bread crumbs
  • 12 oz parmesan cheese
  • 1 whole lemon, strained
  • salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste
  • 1 large can of Durkee / French’s dried onion

Mix all ingredients together except for the onions. Pour into a 9×13 baking pan. Sprinkle bread crumbs and parm cheese on top and distribute pats of butter over that. Cook at 350 for 30 minutes. Sprinkle onions over the casserole and bake for an additional 5 minutes. The onions should be crispy.

“The Thanksgiving memory that stands out the most is when I almost choked to death on a turkey bone…”


Darlene (shipping)

Spinach Madeline

  • 2 packages chopped spinach
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon celery salt
  • 6 ounces jalapeno jack cheese, cut into small cubes
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Cook spinach according to directions.
Drain and keep liquid.
Melt butter in saucepan over low heat.
Add onion and garlic and cook until soft but not brown.
Add flour, stirring while blending.
Add 1/2 cup reserved spinach liquid and evaporated milk, stirring constantly to avoid lumps.
Cook until smooth and thick.
Continue stirring.
Add pepper, celery salt and cheese.
Stir some more till melted.
Combine with cooked spinach.
Top with buttered bread crumbs if desired.


Raquel (customer service / shipping)

Holiday Rolls

  • 2 ½ to 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup shortening
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 package regular or quick active dry yeast
  • ½ cup very warm water (120-130 degrees F)
  • ½ cup very warm milk (120-130 degrees F)
  • 1 egg
  • Butter or margarine. Melted

Mix 2 cups of the flour, the sugar, shortening, salt and yeast in medium bowl. Add warm water, warm milk and egg. Beat with electric mixer on low speed 1 minute, scraping bowl frequently. Beat on medium speed 1 minute, scraping bowl frequently. Stir in enough remaining flour to make dough easy to handle. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface. Knead about 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Place in greased bowl and turn greased side up.

Cover and let rise in warm place about 1 hour or until doubled. Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched.

Grease bottoms and sides of 2 round pans, 9×1 ½ inches. Heat oven to 400 degrees F.

Punch down dough. Cut dough in half; cut each half into 24 pieces. Shape into balls. Place close together in pans. Brush with butter. Cover and let rise in warm place about 30 min or until doubled.

Bake 12 to 18 minutes or until golden brown.

“Most of my favorite Thanksgiving memories growing up involved helping out in the kitchen, especially when we were at my grandma’s house. She would let my cousins and I help make the cranberry sauce, bake desserts and my favorite, her rolls! I remember feeling proud when everyone said how great everything tasted. I always thought my grandmother decorated the table so “fancy” and it was nice seeing our “work” displayed for everyone to see… and taste! Thanksgiving always brings out the best of feelings and I will always remember the smells, smiles and love that filled the room!”


Beverly (customer service)

Sweet Potato Pie

  • 3 cups sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 3 cups mashed sweet potatoes
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 sticks melted unsalted butter
  • 1 and 1/3 cup evaporated milk
  • Deep dish frozen pie shell
  • Dash of nutmeg

Cream sugar & eggs together. Add sweet potatoes, vanilla & butter. Mix well & add milk last.

Pour into deep dish frozen pie shell. Dust top with nutmeg. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour. *this recipe makes 2 deep dish pies or 4 regular pies*

“I love how we say a Thanksgiving blessing & thank our family for joining us(we usually host). Then each person around the table says one thing they are grateful for. It’s sweet to hear what everyone says. The remarks are profound, simple or funny, but we all love the tradition!”


Jacqueline (marketing)

Southern Cheesy Potato Casserole

  • 2 lbs Ore-Ida frozen hash brown potatoes
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup, undiluted
  • 1 pint sour cream
  • 2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups crushed corn flakes, mixed with 1/4 cup melted butter

Defrost potatoes. Combine in large mixing bowl with 1/2 cup melted butter; add salt, pepper, onion, soup, sour cream, and cheese. Blend thoroughly. Pour into greased 9×13” dish. Cover with crushed corn flakes mixed with melted butter. Bake 45 minutes in 350 degree oven. Serves 16.

“Thanksgiving dinner at my Grandparents house will forever be one of my most fond memories. My Grandmother had a beloved set of pilgrim figurines that she would use when setting the dinner table, which paired nicely with her vintage wax turkeys. My sister and I would play with them for hours: hosting everything from weddings to hunting trips to serving Thanksgiving dinner. Now those same pilgrims and turkeys make an annual appearance on our Thanksgiving table for my children to enjoy.”


Sarah 

Basic Pecan Pie

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup corn syrup
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1.5 cups pecans crushed
  • 2 frozen pie shells

Beat first four ingredients together then add crushed pecans. Pour evenly into two pie crusts. Bake at 350 for 45-55 minutes.

OPTIONAL (My sister-in-law Skye took this recipe to the next level! See below):

Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup corn syrup
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • pinch or two of salt
  • a swig of GOOD whisky or bourbon
  • 1.5 cups pecans crushed
  • a couple handfuls of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 deep dish pie crust

Beat first six ingredients together then add crushed pecans and chocolate chips. Pour into one deep dish pie shell. Bake at 350 for 45-55 minutes.

“My fondest Thanksgiving memory was in 2008. Seth was in Iraq and I was missing him like crazy. I live 2 hours from my siblings and parents but with a newborn and two other small children, traveling would’ve been a nightmare for me. Instead they came to me! My three sisters, my brother, their children, and my parents drove to my small house on Wednesday night to prepare a feast. We stayed up all night cooking a turkey (you’ll notice we did NOT share that recipe here!), sharing wine and lots of laughter. On Thanksgiving morning we skyped with Seth… It was a bittersweet time, but looking back I am so thankful for it! That holiday was a great reminder of my many blessings. Family, love, support, togetherness, good food, great memories… What more can I ask for?”


Shannon

Apple Pie A La Magic

  • Pillsbury Pie Crust
  • 3 – 4 Large Golden Delicious Apples sliced thin
  • 3/4 cup Sugar
  • 1-1/2 Tablespoons Flour
  • Cinnamon to taste
  • 1 Box Jiffy Yellow Cake Mix
  • 1 Stick Butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll pie crust and press in to pie plate. Mix flour, sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Slice apples very thin (mandolin recommended) and toss in the mixture of sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Pour the apple/sugar mixture into unbaked pie crust and place 5 “pats”/slices of butter on top. Cover the apples with the yellow cake mix. Slice the remaining stick of butter into small pieces and place on top of the cake mix. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour and golden brown on top. Enjoy with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream!

Seven Layer Salad

  • Head of iceberg lettuce (chopped)
  • Artichoke hearts and hearts of palm cut up
  • 5 hard boiled eggs (chopped)
  • Frozen peas (run under water to thaw slightly)
  • 1 cup mayo and 2 tablespoon sugar
  • Shredded cheese
  • 1 lb Bacon cooked hard and chopped

Layer first 4 ingredients in a glass bowl, cover with mayo dressing then put cheese layer and bacon on top! Put in fridge until you serve!

“Thanksgiving, to me, has always marked the beginning of the Christmas season, so that alone has made it a special time. A season filled with thankfulness and appreciation- I’ve always loved this time of year! The sights and smells of thanksgiving stand out to me- sweet potato casserole, turkey and cranberry, apple and pecan pie- but beyond that, the gathering of family is so prominent in my mind. Family coming together to fellowship, standing before our meal, holding hands and thanking God for all of our many blessings before we sit down together and enjoy all of the amazing foods that everyone worked so hard to prepare. I am so thankful for the family that God has given me- my husband and children- and feel so blessed to be a part of both the family I was born into and the family that I married into!”


LEAVES OF THANKS

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Here’s a simple family activity! It works beautifully with real leaves, but on this rainy day an old grocery bag was the best we could do. Cut leaves from paper (or use the real thing) and ask the children to write the things they are most thankful for this year. Collect the leaves in a bowl as a dining table centerpiece or string them with twine and hang as a sweet reminder of your blessings.


We would love to see your favorite holiday recipes, memories and traditions! Feel free to share them here.

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holiday event: the deets

Are you in the holiday spirit yet? We most certainly are! Cinnamon, gingerbread, eggnog and apple cider can’t come soon enough (and weather cooler than 90 degrees would be really nice, too!).

We’re so happy you’ve decided to join us tonight for our Holiday Special Event! There is a lot of information so we decided to share it here. Before we breakdown the details on each piece, we want to mention that all items are completed but have not shipped to us yet. Ship times listed below are based upon when we will receive each individual style. Please make careful note of ship times before purchasing tonight. All items will ship to you within 14 business days (some sooner).

We hope you will appreciate the thought and care that has gone into the making of these holiday items! The dresses you’re seeing now were designed a year ago and we have been dreaming about sharing them ever since! And believe it or not, there is more to come in a couple of weeks (and we are equally excited about those!).

Now, without further adieu– here are the sale details:

Cart Limits: Due to the varying ship times of each style, there will be a cart limit of (1) item per order, but a family/household limit of (4) orders. All items will load to the site at 8PM CST under the SHOP ALL tab.

FROSTED PINECONES:

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  • SHIPPING: WITHIN (5) BUSINESS DAYS
  • SIZES: 6M to 8Y
  • CONTENT: 100% cotton and silk organza, lined in cotton
  • PRICE: $58
  • COLORS: cool minty green, brown, mossy green vine embroidery
  • OF SPECIAL NOTE: Pinecone embroidery is composed of teeny glittering sequins. Extra sequins will be provided with dresses. Silk organza on bodice is delicate and should be handled with care. Each dress was hand embroidered and there is no standard for “perfection”. Expect small differences and variations from piece to piece.
  • CARE INSTRUCTIONS: DRY CLEANING is preferred. Otherwise, hand wash carefully or wash in cold water. Remove from wash immediately and hang at waist (not from shoulders) or lay flat to dry.

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KING IS BORN 2015:

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  • SHIPPING: WITHIN (12-14) BUSINESS DAYS
  • SIZES: 6M to 8Y
  • CONTENT: 100% cotton, lined in cotton
  • PRICE: $54
  • COLORS: white, red, green
  • OF SPECIAL NOTE: Crown embroidery is deep red and surrounding leaves are deep green. Upon close inspection, red and green thread will be visible through the white bodice. This is to be expected and is not considered a flaw. Each dress was hand embroidered and there is no standard for “perfection”. Expect small differences and variations from piece to piece. Hand washing is best. Remove from wash immediately and lay flat to dry.

KIBCHART

ROSITA BELLA:

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  • SHIPPING: WITHIN (12-14) BUSINESS DAYS
  • SIZES: 6M to 10Y
  • CONTENT: 100% cotton, lined in cotton
  • PRICE: $56
  • COLORS: ivory, three shades of ombre red, green
  • OF SPECIAL NOTE: Rose embroidery is deep red and surrounding leaves are deep green. Upon close inspection, red and green thread will be visible through the ivory bodice. This is to be expected and is not considered a flaw. Each dress was hand embroidered and there is no standard for “perfection”. Expect small differences and variations from piece to piece.
  • CARE INSTRUCTIONS: DRY CLEAN initially (preferably a few times), then hand wash carefully or wash in cold water / delicate cycle alone and with a color-catcher. Remove from wash immediately and hang or lightly tumble to dry, careful to keep wet red skirt from touching ivory bodice for any length of time. Do not soak. Iron or steam as necessary.

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JUJU LOUNGER / CLASSIC DOT:

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  • SHIPPING: WITHIN (14) BUSINESS DAYS
  • SIZES: 6M to 8Y
  • CONTENT: 100% cotton satin, lined in cotton
  • PRICE: $52
  • COLORS: red & white (small polka dot)
  • OF SPECIAL NOTE: Each white knot and bead was hand embroidered and there is no standard for “perfection”. Expect small differences and variations from piece to piece. Hand washing in mild soap is best. Remove from water immediately and lay flat to dry. Do not soak.

JujuCHART

wisdom of friends

comfort

If you have not read the comments under our last post, I urge you to grab a cup of coffee and head somewhere quiet for a little while. I have spent several hours soaking up every single story and tidbit of wisdom. Every comment has truly blessed me and I hope the advice speaks to other mothers who may be struggling– or simply in need of an encouraging word today.

I wish every single person could win! After much back and forth, we have selected four comments that really resonated with us. Having said that, it was a HARD choice! So much of the advice left us crying (yes, really!) and laughing (funny fathers & grandmothers!). Other points were so simple (but so profound!) and have been copied & pasted to reference again and again.

We are humbled by how much we have to learn and by your willingness to give so freely of yourselves. Thank you, thank you, thank you for being so open and so incredibly kind.


Now for the winners (please shoot us a message on our facebook page so we can send your goodies to you!):

(1) Be a Nice Human gift pack

Congrats to babysmama (in honor of Jacob and his siblings- clearly the nicest of humans) who says:

Goodness, this post speaks to my heart.

My 8 year old son, Jacob, donated toys to the Children’s Hospital. Saved his money up to buy his sister and brother candy and toys. Asked to send money to the orphans in Haiti and Africa. All while HE was going through a 3 year battle with cancer.

After his passing we started doing random acts of kindness in his honor (see Jacob’s Ladder page on Facebook!). The kids and I try to always think of how to make others smile…leave change at a vending machine, pay for the person behind us in line, mail an ice cream gift certificate to a random stranger. Doing these little, yet daily things, always keeps making someone happy in our heads. And my doing so it’s impossible to think of making someone sad.

Our motto since Jacob’s sickness in 2010 was Joshua 1:9: Be Strong and Courageous. This is engraved on his headstone right above his siblings names. It’s a good reminder for us all. <3

http://www.trenchesofmommyhood.blogspot.com

(2) The Finishing School 

Congrats to Alli who says: 

Raising kids to be selfless in a selfish world is hard. We live in an entitled world where people are self seekers. No one stands for the weak and they very well may spend their entire life swimming “upstream”. I teach my children to love the unlovable. To always do what’s right even if others don’t. That they should be givers since it is always way more fun and self rewarding. The saying goes “takers may eat better, but givers sleep better” and it’s true. We do all stumble and make mistakes, but at the end of the day if you can look at yourself and say I was the best “me” possible today that’s all that matters. I hope I grow successful and well rounded adults that will stick up for the “little guy” and be proud of the life they make, even if it’s a simple one. A simple life is a beautiful life afterall.

(3) Versatile Cardigan / Vest 

Congrats to Lindsey N who says:

Be kind. It’s so simple, but so true — so powerful. I fail. More than I like to admit. Those two words were always coming out of my momma’s mouth. Sometimes in a soft, sweet voice that would make a little girl feel like she could do anything. Sometimes quickly said through gritted teeth, serving as a stern reminder. Being a mom is so, so hard. We have the responsibility of raising children that will grow up to make a positive impact in this world … and it’s a lot of pressure. So, I wholeheartedly believe living a kind existence is so important. Be kind to your children, be kind to yourself, be kind to other people. Everyone is fighting their own battles … and what does it hurt to show a little kindness to everyone you meet? This is what I pray every day that my children will learn from me.

(4) Luxe by Virtue jewelry package

Congrats to Heather Cook who says:

BE THE GOOD YOU WANT TO SEE IN YOUR CHILDREN.

Several months ago, I was standing in line at a discount grocery store and a woman in front of me was totaling groceries as they went by on the conveyor. She had two children with her. As the total increased, so did her apparent anxiety. She soon started pulling things off the conveyor and making a separate pile. She leaned in to the cashier and said, “I need you to stop at $40.” Her gallon of milk put her 85 cents over. She began to dig through her purse frantically looking for change. Without one thought, I handed over the $1 bill I had in my wallet. She looked at me and apologetically said “Thank you.” I know she meant it because I’ve been in that very position.

There are moments in life where you feel God’s voice speaking to your heart, and this was one of those times. As the woman began to bag her groceries, I told the cashier to ring up the pile of groceries she wasn’t able to get. My 14-year-old son would take an armful at a time and carry them over to the counter where the woman was bagging her groceries. I can still remember the look of utter shock on the woman’s face when my son handed her a bunch of bananas and started putting the groceries in her boxes. All she could do was say “thank you” between deep breaths. Then her daughter, she was maybe 5 or 6, exclaimed with such excitement “You mean I get to keep the pickles?!” My son had the jar in his hands and he happily said “Yes, you do.” In that moment, I had to wipe away a tear. My son handed her the jar, jumped up and down, did his hand flapping, squealed joyfully and came back to me with a huge smile.

He remembers every moment of this event like a movie playing in his head. He often talks about it. It made such an impression on him, which isn’t easy to do sometimes.

My son has Aspergers.

Best $33.20 I’ve ever spent.


You wonderful ladies have proven that (although bullying is alive and well) goodness can and will rise above. So proud to know you all. <3

Sincerely,

Sarah & Shannon

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if not me…


If not us, then who
If not me and you
Right now, it’s time for us to do something
If not now, then when
Will we see an end
To all this pain
It’s not enough to do nothing
It’s time for us to do something

~ Matthew West


It is 1995 and a boy sits alone at the lunch table. He’s skinny and quiet, wearing a tattered Polo shirt. His name is Don. He typically roams the halls during lunch to avoid scenes like this, but today he is starved… So he eats, dodging occasional cheeto bullets from the next table. It is Friday so pep rally excitement fills the air. Don stares at his food, likely battling an internal voice yelling GET UP! RUN AWAY! And perhaps the voice almost wins. He’s picking up his half-eaten tray when a cheerleader takes the seat beside him. She glares at her friends who sheepishly put their chips away as she starts a conversation. His behavior is often odd, to be sure, but he means no harm (years later he will be diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome). The bell rings and she rises to leave. He flashes a cautious smile and holds his head a little higher. This will be the last lunch they share, but also the last time he feels humiliated and alone. One girl, one small act of courage and kindness changes everything.

What did her parents do? Why, in the midst so much wrong, did she choose RIGHT? And how can we grow little humans who will become assets to humanity? 

Bullying, my friends, is alive and well… And not isolated to children. Social media has exacerbated the problem, allowing people to abuse one another behind the relative safety of their computers. And, good people, fearing they might be the next victim of widespread attacks, are unwilling to defend or protect the wronged. Like wildfire, negative news spreads, lies become truth, and wrongdoing is praised and passed on. Yikes. Thought it was hard being a kid in 1995? Good luck to our children if we don’t make a stand now.

We started Well Dressed Wolf with little more than a dream, a few sketches and our innocence. Somehow, little by little, our baby company started growing… and in just a few years has become something we never imagined. Along the way we have made friends (so many friends!). We’ve gained wisdom, honed our craft, learned valuable (sometimes costly!) lessons in business, and watched women come together for the good of eachother and the world. We’ve celebrated babies being born and literally watched children grow up through pictures (wearing WDW!). In the early days, we jumped right into social media, joining the many groups that popped up in our name. Having never been involved in the underground world of children’s clothing, it was a rush! Interacting with customers on such a personal level was thrilling and gratifying… Until it wasn’t.

Recently, we have stepped away from all groups (most of which are lovely places full of wonderful women!) because it was necessary. We didn’t start this business to referee or participate in sparring factions of clothing lovers and buyers and sellers. We aren’t politicians and have no desire to be. Our daily posts shouldn’t be planned like a State of the Union address– each word measured and monitored for potential hidden meaning or intention. We started this journey because we LOVE to design adorable things for your children and we LOVE getting to know so many good people who have rallied around our brand (and there are so many good people). In fact, a positive and inspiring community group will soon be launched exclusively for friends of Well Dressed Wolf. We hope you’ll take part! We plan to pop in periodically and you’ll get sneaks, make supportive friendships, take part in giveaways and have opportunities to help make the world a BETTER PLACE. It really is time to make social media a more positive experience again- for our children; for ourselves. Adults bullying one another and harassing businesses should never be okay.

As we tell our own children, you have CHOICES every day: seek darkness or seek light. Make a positive impact on the world or a negative one. Seek to inspire or to destroy. Do what you know is right- even when it isn’t “cool”. Don’t seek revenge (no matter how much you want to!) and pray for the people who hurt you (this one is a toughie!). You aren’t perfect and you’ll make mistakes, so learn to apologize and forgive. Be honest, but be kind. Truth doesn’t have to hurt… THESE are goals for our own lives (and business), and though we sometimes fall short, we are confident in the path we’ve chosen.

You’re living the one and only life that God has gifted you, so make it count.

Love,

Sarah and Shannon

nicegiveaway

On that note, let’s celebrate being good today. We have some sweet giveaways and links to happy places below:

  1. Our mantra for the day is BE A NICE HUMAN! And guess what? Our dear friend launched a company built to inspire just that! Our new favorite tank reminds everyone we meet to behave nicely in a modern, graphically pleasing font (bonus!). Danielle has generously offered a shirt, bag, candle and bracelet to one lucky person! Sidenote: you’ll want to buy some for everyone you know, so here is their facebook page (where they happen to be hosting a giveaway of their own, so go check it out!).
  2. We are all works-in-progress. The Finishing School is a book we genuinely look forward to delving into! Several of our friends have also purchased the pre-order and we plan to work through the chapters together, encouraging one another along the way. Valerie of Val Marie Papers has generously offered a book for one of you!
  3. This little cardi/vest/sweater is the most versatile thing our my closets (yes, we both have one!). Dress it up, dress it down… Wear it as a long sleeveless vest or long-sleeved cozy cardi. Add a tank, skinnies & boots – and you’re ready to hit the streets and make good things happen. One lucky winner will receive this beauty, but keep your eye on Buckle for restocks or similar items!
  4. Luxe by Virtue is a good friend’s jewelry line. Tracy’s pieces are stunning and available only through boutiques and high end retailers… and here for one lucky person! This brand stands for all of the things we love: goodness, righteousness, integrity, dignity, honor, nobility, purity and worthiness (a portion of all proceeds go to Giving Hope NOLA, dedicated to feeding needy elderly in New Orleans). We are so excited to share these pieces with one of you. You can see more of her glistening beauties by following her Instagram and you can purchase online at Shop Bella Vita.

So how do you win? Simply comment below with your BEST ADVICE to other parents about how to raise KIND, GOOD, COURAGEOUS little people. Include true stories, wisdom passed down from generation to generation or practical solutions! 4 winners will be selected from the comments and announced next Thursday. Also, help us support the fine businesses above by liking their pages!

Aunt Heart

Inspired by Heartcease Higgins
Our Aunt Heart Tunic & Bloomers

I can’t say exactly WHAT made Heartcease Higgin’s house my favorite place in the world… It could have been her bathroom: pearly pink bathtub, frilly curtains with eyelet trim, magical oil-filled melting balls in translucent shades of red and blue, soaps in happy shapes of birds and seashells; the scent of lilac… Maybe it was her kitchen: sun streaming through lace curtains; caramel cooking on the stove; dining table squeezed next to a mirrored folding door that concealed a washer, dryer and countless art supplies; the scent of slightly burned pie crust in the oven… Her living room? It was a mix of humble furnishings and fine antiques- a rusty pink velvet love seat with wooden arms and legs, a crochet pillow, stained concrete floors before they were commonplace. Aunt Heart’s home was a reflection of her– full of happiness and hazy light, brimming with comfort.

She was sister to my grandmother (making her our great aunt in actuality) and she seemed elderly to me- even as a child. Her lily white skin and hair, a huge smile, gentle voice and unending patience made her seem like a real life angel. In her younger years, she was a school teacher. In later years, she taught us Hawaiian songs & dances (quite exotic to her Louisiana protegé). I still hum that tune so many years later… “We throw our nets out into the sea.. and all the `ama`ama come a-swimming to me– Oh, we’re going to a Hukilau… huki huki huki Hukilau”...

Aunt Heart’s kitchen was a little girl’s dream come true. Siblings, neighborhood friends, cousins- anyone within reach- was welcome at anytime… and she let us cook. More than that, she taught us to cook (mostly dessert which was our shared favorite meal). We made pies (see recipe below), candy, cakes and caramel frosting from scratch. On every formica surface were spatulas, glass mixing bowls, thermometers and little water glasses for testing caramel. Side note: When bubbling and browned melted sugar is dripped into water and remains in droplet form, caramel can be pulled from the heat. Bet you didn’t know that…

Aunt Heart hosted art classes from her kitchen table and dubbed me the Chief Assistant. She aided in the production of countless plays, movies and short stories. Her brick fireplace was the central backdrop to more Sunday luncheons, Easter extravaganzas and costume parties than I can count. Aunt Heart nurtured the very creativity that formed who I am today.

In my memory, she will always be ruffles and lace… sweet, soft, dainty and utterly comfortable. She was a home away from home. While we can never capture her essence in an article of clothing, we do hope our little dress and tunic evoke a nostalgic feeling for you and that in a very small way- a part of Aunt Heart will live on forever.

XO~

Sarah (clearly, I was her favorite, too)

Wedding Day
The beautiful bride
Heart in Spain
1964 Aunt Heart in Spain (far right)… look at the cute little Spanish dresses!
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Mimi (of Mim’s Attic); Aunt Heart, Sally (aka: Honey, aka: our mom), Gigi all in one picture!
Aunt Heart as we remember her...
Aunt Heart as we remember her…
recipe
Her FAMOUS chocolate pie recipe! In her own handwriting.

Aunt Heart’s Chocolate Custard Pie

Crust:

  • 1 and 2/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 level tsp salt (plus a little more)
  • measuring cup filled with 2/3 cup vegetable oil and 1/3 cup milk

Dump oil/milk mixture into flour/salt and mix with hands until it forms a ball. Split in half  and refrigerate (reserve 1/2 for later). When ready, press into pie pan and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes (watch until it browns). Remove and let cool.

Filling:

  • 1 can condensed milk
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cocoa
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 tsp vanilla

In a double boiler, heat condensed milk and milk over medium low heat. In the meantime, make a paste with cocoa powder and egg yolks. Add to milk mixture and stir continuously until a pudding-like consistency is formed. Pour into cooked pie shell and refrigerate overnight. Top with whipping cream. Enjoy!

Scenes from our Aunt Heart Inspired Birthday Party

stair climbing
Birthday escapees
cake walk
Cake walk…
presents
Birthday gifts!
collage
Shannon & sweet Naomi; the girls survey the scene; ready for cake

 

hometownfirecracker

who is your hometown hero?

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Who is your hero?

I met mine in May of 1998. He was fresh from Basic Training and I was coming out of my freshman year at LSU. A series of odd events brought him to my dorm room on the very day I was packing up for the summer. It took one afternoon to convince me that I’d found “the one”. I have really great instincts. We were married in September of 2003, had our first baby in September of 2004 during flight school in Fort Rucker, AL. In 2008, he was deployed to Iraq, where he remained for a year (missing the delivery of our third baby and his first 6 months of life– read more on that here). We recently celebrated the birth of our fifth child- and while he is no longer in the army, he’ll  always be my hero.

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Even being a former military wife, I’ll never fully understand what our hardworking soldiers go through in times of war or separation-  or that well of strength deep inside that draws them to military service in the first place. I do, however, understand the network of heroes who are left behind: the husbands and wives and children of those servicemen and women… the ones who didn’t necessarily choose a military life- but proudly, humbly, bravely follow their soldiers to lands unknown.

So in addition to the amazing men and women who are willing to fight and die for this country, we applaud the lesser-known heroes in trenches of their own: the tired mom who fixes toilets, mows the lawn and remembers to take out the trash… the anxious dad who drives carpool, braids hair and bakes cupcakes for class, the child who puts one foot in front of the other every day- a weary smile on his face. Our military families are the backbone of this country- and we all owe them a tremendous debt of gratitude.

Having said that, W.D. Wolf wants to honor a hometown hero with “Hometown Firecracker” outfits for his or her family. So, who is your hero? Leave your nominations here. Please tell us a little bit about your favorite soldier, military spouse or family- and what makes them so very special. We will select and announce the winner this week.

Love,

Sarah & Shannon

2014: party time!

Long time, no see! Let’s start the new year with a new party dress–perfect for any celebration your imagination can concoct!

joyceform

And of course we have so many other exciting things in the works this year! We are getting ORGANIZED the old-fashioned way (pen & ink) thanks to this blog post by Val Marie Paper

We bought the Emily Ley Life Binders  (below):

2013 Shay Cochrane

And the 2014 Power Sheets by Lara Casey.

Shannon and I are so excited about the future of this company- we have been so blessed (we have to pinch ourselves daily) by our AMAZING customers and the crazy growth spurt we had in 2013. Please follow us on facebook to keep tabs on our secret sales & giveaways- you all know how quickly the dresses go once they’re loaded! Right now we have a share-to-win featuring our Joyce Party Dress, 25 custom thank-you cards, and a darling cowl by Well Dressed Toddlers!

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Promise to blog more this year!

XO~

Sarah

Almost picnic time…

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We are so excited to launch the W.D. Wolf Picnic line- designed with emphasis on vintage style, simple sweetness and playful fabrics that maintain our subtle, soft aesthetic.

April 26 is the big day– we’re giving away 13 “Petit Four” dresses to our fine facebook fans (visit our page to see them and read all about it) and introducing a few others that we know you’ll love (like the charming “Bake Shop” dress seen here)!

If you haven’t already, like our page on Facebook to receive the latest updates, deals and giveaway opportunities!

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