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From the Desk of Dixie

Holland Williams Photography

Meet Holland Williams!  She is one of our amazing contributing photographers.  If you see an image you love on one of our new birth announcements or on our Easter cards, it's likely Holland's.  She has mastered the art of photographing babies, children and families and we are HUGE fans of her work.  And even more exciting for our local Dixie friends, Holland and her family are moving to Birmingham this summer!  So, follow her on Instagram/Facebook and make sure you book her right away when you have photography needs (her spots fill up quickly!).  Read on to learn about this fun and talented lady and what inspires and interests her:

I'm Holland - mom to Chappell (8), Collier (5) and Margaret Reed (2). Wife to my best friend (on most days), Reed. I'm addicted to coffee and never wear anything but work out clothes (ignore the photo, it's fake). I love running with my friends and haven't watched a TV show in probably ten years. I don't like sand, but the beach is my happy place!

I've been a photographer for over eight years now and I specialize in unique portraits of newborns, babies, children, families and limited (boutique) wedding coverage. In 2008, I quit my job to stay home with my first child, however, I soon found myself in a new city with a colicky baby and needing something else to focus on. I became all but obsessed. I didn't want to owe my husband or parents anything if this venture tanked, so I sold some jewelry to a pawn shop to buy my first version of Photoshop. And I was truly petrified the whole time I was in there!

Hands down, what I love most about my job is spending time with my clients. I have an absolutely wonderful clientele and their enthusiasm and gratitude for my work makes my job extremely satisfying. They are the reason I enjoy my work so much. Numerous clients have become dear friends and I treasure the relationships I have with them. I'm side by side with my clients for some of life's most sacred moments (weddings, births, engagements & all those special milestones) and I do not take that lightly. I truly feel blessed beyond measure to be able to do what I love for a living.

Dream destination: Australia

Most magical destination: The Alps are pretty magical

Ideal dinner date: Oprah! Life-long fan, here. I’m slightly embarrassed to say this, but I waited outside a restaurant for her when she visited Montgomery! She was SO sweet and spoke to us when she left.

Listening to: I listen to a pretty strange variety of music. Anything from Christian rock to rap. Depends on the day.

Recommended read: All I do is edit photos!

Recommended film: Unfortunately, see above!

Favorite foods: Sushi (of any kind), seared tuna and… raw oysters. I’m a Florida girl, and love seafood!

Power color: Green

Inspiration: As far as photography is concerned, I am inspired by my subject. A photographer friend once told me that she prayed before each session - to be able to capture each subject as beautifully as God sees them.

Prized possession: Photos and paintings of my children… their artwork…newborn hospital bracelets…snippets from first haircuts…

One should never: I still have a hard time wearing white before Easter, even though I know that rule has been thrown out the window.

Go-to hostess gift: You can’t go wrong with a good bottle of wine!

Hidden talent: You’ve never seen someone type so fast.

Perfect cup of joe: Two Splendas and cream. Recently, my 8 year old learned how to use our Keurig - she now brings me coffee in bed! I thought this day would never come.

Childhood dream: A dermatologist

Tool of the trade: I’m a Canon girl. Couldn’t live without my 50 mm 1.2 lens.

 

Prayer of St. Patrick Printable

Happy St. Patrick's week!  We are celebrating with a FREE printable for our Dixie friends.  Saint Patrick's Prayer for the Faithful is beautiful by itself, but we love how our talented designers embellished this print for you.  A big thank you to Gina Langford for her gorgeous crest and Holly Hollon for her elegant calligraphy.

To print, right click on the image below, click Save Image As and then Print on nice, thick card stock.  Display and enjoy!

**Post on Instagram, mention or tag @dixie_design and we'll DM you a free shipping code!**

 

Hummingbird Cake

Southerners love their cakes: it’s just a fact. We use any excuse to whip up some layers and really, is there anything more comforting than a pretty cake stand holding toothsome, sliceable bit of joy. Friends drop in for coffee? Afternoon snack? Even a breakfast in a pinch. Southerners know cake. We have many, many famous cakes, from Tennessee jam cake to Lane cake, but there may be no more popular Southern cake than the Hummingbird Cake. First featured in Southern Living in 1978, the Hummingbird Cake–and its delightfully odd marriage of bananas, pineapple, and cream cheese–has been one of the most popular recipes in the magazine’s fifty year history. Lots of us can remember our mamas fixing up a Hummingbird Cake for parties or potlucks. Many versions of the flavor trio abound, from cupcakes to milkshakes, but the classic cake itself, while it is a great thing to make for an occasion, can be its own occasion. That’s how delicious it is. If you’ve never made one before, maybe start a new tradition this holiday season with one of these spins on the classic. We featured a Hummingbird Bundt Cake in our Holiday 2016 photoshoot and sure enjoyed eating it as soon as we finished taking photos. The cake was made by Susan Dobbs in Birmingham.

Mama Mac's Egg Nog by Erin Hollon

Here at Dixie, we love tradition, that is part of what makes us Southern. New designer, Erin Hollon, shares memories of making Mama Mac's prized egg nog recipe that her family still treasures today.

Every family has their own Holiday Traditions, but as kids we don’t realize that our traditions aren’t necessarily shared by every other family. 

It wasn’t until I grew up and started hosting parties around the holidays that I realized some of my yearly recipes were just downright odd to other people. And theirs were odd to me! 

Spiced Egg Nog, the runny kind you find in the dairy aisle, was a total mystery to me. Growing up we had our own Egg Nog recipe, passed down from generation to generation. Rather than spices, we added sherry and bourbon to our thick and creamy concoction. As the child of parents who never drank the rest of the year, this was a treat of nearly magical proportions! 

I remember the anticipation as my grandmother started whipping cream in the kitchen and the giggles as my aunts and uncles added more sherry to their glasses. 

Once my grandmother passed, the Egg Nog responsibility was transferred to my mom. She often let us help, reminding us to be careful whipping the cream because it could easily turn to butter. One time it did, making us feel very guilty and nervous until we discovered it was the best butter we’d ever tasted!

The addition of the gelatin is also a little harrowing, as any wrong step can leave you with tiny hard lumps in the finished product.

The older I grew the more I realized this holiday treat is really a labor of love, as so many traditions are. And now I get to make it myself and share this love with all my New York friends. They look at me like I’m crazy when I describe it, but once they taste it, they are instant fans. And we still giggle as we add an extra tipple on the sly!

Here is the family recipe, in case you’d like to give it a try this holiday season. It goes perfectly with New Year’s Celebrations too!

Mama Mac's Egg Nog
Ingredients:
6 eggs separated
2 cups sugar plus 6 TBSP
1/2 cup dry sherry
5 cups heavy whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla
2 packages plain gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup heated milk
2 very large bowls and one small bowl
Directions:
Note: Rinse beaters between each step.
1. Place gelatin in water and then add heated milk. Allow mixture to cool while beating egg whites. Add about 6 Tbsp sugar to the egg whites while beating them. Placed egg 
whites in the refrigerator. Beat egg yolks. Add the remaining sugar and the sherry slowly to the egg yolks. Add the gelatin mixture.
2. Whip cream in another bowl. Add vanilla. Add whipped cream to the egg yolk mixture, then fold in the egg whites.
3. Place in refrigerator for 3-4 hours or until mixture is set. Fluff with a wire whisk and serve. Makes 3 1/2 to 4 quarts.
(Addition of bourbon to the egg yolk mixture before adding the gelatin is an option)

Sugar Crinkles & Southern Cookie Swaps

There are many beloved holiday traditions: trimming the tree, hiding presents, seeing The Nutcracker, and, of course, baking cookies. Here in the South, we like to take it a step further and host cookie swaps. How do these work? Many groups have their own rules, but the general idea is to assemble a group, have everyone bring around three dozen of their favorite cookies and swap. Everyone goes home with a passel of new treats to try and share with their family. It’s a great way to catch up with with friends, and you may even find your new favorite (meltingly tender) cookie recipe. We know that competition at these things can get fierce–set your treats apart and make sure everyone knows what you brought with one simple item: Dixie Design gift tags. They are an easy, elegant way to label your cookie contributions, soigne and personal, all at the same time. Check out our favorite cookie recipe this season featured in our Holiday 2016 photography.

SUGAR CRINKLES
from Christmas with Southern Living 1997, found here

INGREDIENTS

1 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar

DIRECTIONS

Beat shortening and 1 1/2 cups sugar at medium speed of an electric mixer until fluffy. Add eggs and flavorings, beating until blended.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt; gradually add to shortening mixture, beating well. Cover and chill dough.

Shape dough into 1" balls. Roll balls in 1/4 cup sugar. Place balls on ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake at 350° for 8 to 9 minutes or until barely golden. Let cool 2 minutes on cookie sheets. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Styling Your Holiday Cards

It’s finally that time of year! Your mailbox receives holiday cheer each day in the form of personalized Christmas cards from friends and family. Often times, these thoughtful cards get misplaced or placed into a stack, but why not decorate your home with these festive greetings? Our stylist, Augusta, has collected a few ideas to help you deck your halls with your holiday cards this season. 

Deck the Mantle: The fireplace is the anchor of most living rooms, and its mantle should represent your own personal style and design. This year, try decorating your mantle with some of your favorite cards you receive! Start by laying out the foundation of the design with one large centerpiece, maybe an art deco mirror, or family photo. Next, incorporate decorative pieces like vases, candlesticks, and other trinkets. Add in some fresh garland and maybe some white twinkle lights to bring in the holiday spirit. Finally, add in your holiday cards from friends and family! Prop the cards against the decorative pieces, grab a small picture frame holder, or even stand them up within the tinsel. Not only will your mantle look perfect for the holiday season, but your friends and family will gush over your displayed cards!



Frame a Favorite: 
Consider framing one of your favorite holiday cards! Whether it’s your own personal card, or an illustration from another card, there are plenty of beautiful designs to keep as decoration throughout the year. Our fabulous designer and illustrator, Sarah Robins Powell, has created some incredible paintings for her designs. Sarah’s “Advent” design is a perfect example. Frame this beauty in a gold frame, display in your
entryway or mantle and enjoy it year round!



Garland:
There’s nothing like fresh tinsel to make your home feel perfectly festive. Whether you adorn your mantle or create a wreath, there are plenty of ways to incorporate garland around the house during the holiday season. By using wooden clothespins, or even gold paper clips, you can attach each Christmas card to the greenery as you receive them in the mail. If the garland is hanging from the stairwell, or doorway, loop a thin piece of ribbon behind each card in order to hang them off the greenery. Add some twinkle lights to make things merry and bright!



Decorative board:
If you are looking to decorate your entryway, or even an available space in your kitchen, try displaying your Christmas cards on a decorative bulletin board, magnetic chalkboard, or lattice board.  If you can’t find a decorative display board to compliment the interior of your home, they are actually quite simple to make! Check out the handmade bulletin boards we created for our very own Dixie Design holiday card display.

Ribbon: Want to keep things festive, without going through too much trouble? Simply attach your favorite style of ribbon, or yarn, down the center of your kitchen cabinet, or pantry door! Then attach your Christmas cards with wooden clothespins, metal clips, or even paperclips.  Attach a little ornament, or sleigh bell, to the bottom of each ribbon, for a small festive touch.

Tree: We love the idea of having multiple Christmas trees in your home. Hang your Christmas cards (or pin them) to a small Christmas tree in your entryway, or dining room. If you need something for a table top surface, try adding some branches or curly willow to a blue and white ginger jar, and hanging your cards from the branches. Your guests will love how you decorated your home with cards from loved ones!

We love saving our holiday cards in a memory box or keepsake album to remember our family and friends who sent us a card, or wrap each year up with a ribbon to organize them. Each Christmas you can pull them out and display; it makes for a fun conversation starter at a holiday party. Our Dixie Design photographer, Mandy Busby, keeps her cards in a decorative container in her kitchen. During the weeks following that holiday season, her family takes a moment to pick a card out of the box and pray for the family/friends on the card. However you decide to display or decorate with them, we hope each card you receive brings you joy!

Dixie Photographer: Mary-Keeley McAllister Smith

 

We are very thankful for all the talented photographers who let us use their beautiful images in our Christmas cards. We are excited to first introduce you to Mary-Keeley McAllister Smith:

I’m married to my best friend, Cole, and we currently reside in Homewood, Alabama with our fur baby, Buddy, the bichon frise.  Raised in Tuscaloosa, it's no coincidence I have a passion for creative arts - my mother was an elementary school librarian and folk-artist and my father has been a photographer for over 40 years. In 2009, I graduated with a degree in visual journalism from the University of Alabama and, in 2011, I started my full time portrait photography business. My approach to photography is a unique blend of photojournalism and classic family portraiture, which I find lends itself well to capturing the swift season of childhood. While I do enjoy photographing the occasional wedding, the majority of my business is family portraiture.











Dream Vacation: Tuscany, Italy

Magical Place: Camp McDowell in Nauvoo, Alabama.

Dinner Date: Oprah - and we’d bring back “Oprah’s Favorite Things!”

Listening to: Ryan Adams “Gold” + Vince Gauraldi Trio “A Charlie Brown Christmas”

Good Read: The Art of Cooking by Julia Child…I realize this is a cookbook but I read it like a novel. It sparked my interest in cooking and was a gift from my sister, inspired by my late mother who was a Julia fanatic.

Last great film you saw? The Bridges of Madison County

Favorite Foods: Tacos, pasta, wine

Favorite color: Blue

Beach or mountains? Beach

What inspires you most? Relationships

Prized Possesion: My engagement ring with my grandmother’s diamond.

Preferred sign-off: Warmly

Go-to hostess gift: Wine

Hidden Talent: I have a nose like a fox hound - I can identify a scent from a mile away.

Coffee: Almond creamer and extra hot

What did you dream of being when you were a kid? A fashion photographer 

What fuels your creativity? Music

What is your number one tool of the trade? Patience

Citrus Inspired Holiday Brunch

Funny how bright, bursting citrus is actually in season during the holidays. Guess that explains Father Christmas bringing oranges to children in historical fiction. The wonderful thing about winter citrus is that it provides us with a bright spot (and a welcome freshness on the palate) in the midst of what can often be heavy winter food. This year, we are loving these bright invites from Vaughan Spanjer. We defy anyone to have winter blues with these beauties in their bag!

Lighter recipes make us think of brunch, and what’s more festive than a mid-day holiday get-together? Less pressure than a cocktail party, more leeway with the menu (think fun savory bites, but also decadent sweets in miniature), and everyone can still make it to their nighttime engagements. We’re sold. Here are just a few of our tips for a festive holiday brunch. Please share your ideas in the comments, we’d love to hear!

 

  • Make a simple menu. While we love to go nuts while entertaining, simplicity is often underrated. Do you make a killer strata? Have a priceless French toast recipe? Make that the centerpiece, and then “accessorize” around it with fresh fruit, high quality coffee, an assortment of breakfast meats, and a signature cocktail. Brunch cocktails are a wonderful world to explore. Here are a few that we like.
  • Go savory. Brunch doesn’t have to be sweet. Maybe it’s a Spanish tortilla that feeds your crowd (we recommend these: so simple, but so impressive), but fluffed up by a basket of sweet rolls, a plate of cheeses, and an assortment of toasts and jams.
  • Lagniappe. This term that means “a little something extra” is just meant for brunch. Especially a festive brunch. Set your table with gorgeous Champagne coupes decorated with charms; let guests take them home as party favors. Add a sprig of rosemary to place cards to make your guests feel at home. Bag elegant shortbread for guests to take home; put them in a little basket on your foyer table. We could go on, but we’re sure you have ideas of your own.
  • Try a mother-daughter brunch. This writer has fond memories of holiday Junior League teas in Atlanta. I dressed in my finery, my American Girl doll dressed in her finery, and we convened on someone’s home for what I thought was the epitome of elegance. What little girl doesn’t like tea sandwiches and delicate cookies? The holidays are a great time to take existing bonds and making them even stronger.
  • Potluck! Maybe it’s sacrilege, but consider providing a drinks cart and, say, one savory staple and one sweet. Invite guests to bring their favorite brunch dish. For added fun, have everyone come in their pajamas. It’ll be like the best sleepover you never had. But with delicious food. And Champagne!

 

Danielle's Holiday Hound Gift Guide

We had so much fun working with Danielle Yancey on her Christmas card for our Tastemaker Collection. While Danielle has many interests and talents - model, yoga instructor, interior decorator - it's her passion for dogs that inspired her Dixie holiday card design. She has three adorable pooches, Willie, Sweet Pea and Trooper, and she also sits on the board of Hand and Paw, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve lives through Animal-Assisted Therapy.  Naturally, she wanted to design a card to reflect all the things her pups love most.

Danielle has put together a gift guide, perfect for your favorite holiday hound. 

1 // Holiday Plush found at Home Goods   2 // Dog Rain Coat   3 // One Lucky Dog Treats   4 // Sequin Bow   5 // Santa Collar   6 // Chiffon Flower   7 //  Candy Cane Jammies   8 // Reindeer Bed   9 // LED Leash

HOLIDAY MEMORY: My favorite memory as a child was in 2nd grade. I woke up and ran into the front living room to see what Santa brought and there was a basset hound puppy running towards me. I was so happy I cried tears of joy. My mom said I had tears streaming down my face. Another memory is of me (when I was around 6 years old) and my older sister (who was around 12) putting on a holiday show with many skits for my parents and grandparents. The funniest of the skits is "The Twelve Days of Christmas" where we danced out the lyrics of the song. We have this on video and we try to watch it every Christmas to have many laughs!! 

THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS & HOLIDAY TRADITION: Growing up we always had a Christmas Eve dinner, got in the car and drove around and looked at Christmas lights around town, then went to Christmas Eve Candlelight service. I still love to do this each year.

GO TO HOSTESS GIFTS: OLI.O Organic Infused Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar Set, Marble Cutting Board with Cheese Spreaders, Bamboo Salad Claws or Yucatan Trading Company Scented Candle with Decorative Matches.

A HOLIDAY PARTY IS NOT COMPLETE WITHOUT: Guests, music and lots of laugher!

HOLIDAY COLORS: Gold, Silver, White, Brown and Green

FAVORITE HOLIDAY MUSIC: Carol of the Bells is my favorite song. It can be any version!

DECK THE HALLS: My mother cross-stitched by hand an entire tree skirt. I have it under my large tree every year. It means a lot to me and this will always be my most treasured Christmas decoration. I also decorate with a lot of organic, natural looks for Christmas and incorporate many metallic, mercury glass and faux fur elements.

ON MY CHRISTMAS LIST: I love yoga and also teach. I have had my eye on new yoga leggings and also a gold yoga mat! A new pair of heels and a fun clutch are also on my list.

I'M STUFFING THE STOCKINGS WITH: Growing up, my Dad always stuffed our hand-made stockings with large mixed unshelled almonds, walnuts, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, tangerines, oranges, chocolates and small gifts. It was always a surprise to find the gifts or even money mixed in with all of the nuts & fruit. This year I am stuffing our dogs stockings with Christmas Dog Toys & Yummy Treats.

NO HOLIDAY TABLE IS COMPLETE WITHOUT: A little sparkle of metallic adds to holiday table decor. I love the festive look of gold, silver or even glitter or sequins on the table for the holidays. Also, you cannot go wrong with a display of candles to add warmth to a table, making it very cozy and inviting. (As for food, I have always enjoyed Deviled Eggs as part of a holiday meal, too!)

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If you are in the Birmingham Area, don't miss Danielle's Holiday Home Tour benefiting Hand in Paw, next Tuesday, December 13th.

Sarah Tucker's Holiday Home Tour


When Sarah Tucker told us her holiday decor was inspired by our Ginger Jar card, we were thrilled and had to share!  We adore her beautifully decorated home with its perfect blend of festive, hints of child-like whimsy, along with simple sophistication. And, of course, we love how she used white with touches of blue and gold. Take a look!















Thank you, Sarah, for sharing your home with us! A few holiday tidbits from Sarah below...

Holiday Memory:
 Every year we would get together with all of our cousins for Christmas. One year we went to Helen, Georgia.  I love that adorable little alpine village all dressed up for Christmas.  I can't wait to go back one day.  

Holiday Tradition:
 The Giving Manger 

Go to Hostess Gift:
For the holidays, I so love to give tiny island pines, in a ginger jar, with a Dixie Design gift tag!

A Holiday Party is not complete without:
 Mistletoe 

Holiday Colors:
Blue, White, and Gold

Favorite Holiday Music:
Mariah Carey

The Night before Christmas: 
After Christmas Eve service at church, we have everyone over to our house for dinner. 

Decks the Halls with:
 Tons of fresh garland, sprigs of eucalyptus, and bows.  

On My Christmas List: 
These Sperry duck boots

No holiday table is complete without: 
Good wine! 
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