Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

One of my favorite (and nostalgic) things about Christmas is waking up as a child (and still now when I go home to see my family) and having Christmas morning breakfasts.

Here is a delicious breakfast recipe that is sure to have your kids drooling and ready to eat before opening their stockings and Christmas gifts from ‘Ole Saint Nick!

This post has been moved to our website. To view the full post go to: http://blog.letop-usa.com/?p=22887




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Le Top went up a hill to find the cutest boutique ever! This week we are featuring one of our most favorite premier boutiques – Jack n’ Jill Shop – in Homewood, Alabama. We were able to interview Store Manager, Laura Player, about the best holiday gifts this season, Christmas discounts the store will be offering for eager parent shoppers, the favorite local family hangouts and her favorite holiday traditions to share with your family. Read more to discover one f the best boutiques to shop at this festive season!

 Jack n’ Jill Shop

2918 South 18th Street
Homewood, AL 35209

CHECK-IN and JOIN Jack n’ Jill Shop Facebook page and click HERE

1.    Tell us the inspiration behind the name Jack N Jill Shop? How long has your store been around? 
The Jack n’ Jill Shop was established in 1954 as the first children’s clothing boutique in the suburb of Homewood, Alabama that is located directly outside of the Birmingham city limits. I am not exactly sure what the inspiration was behind the name Jack n’ Jill other than that the original owners thought that it would be cute to name their store after a popular children’s nursery rhyme. It’s definitely a name that children and parents can easily remember!

2.    The holidays are LITERALLY around the corner and it is the last weekend to buy holiday gifts before Christmas Eve. What are your top 3 items (clothes, toys, giftables, etc.) for any parent shopping for the holidays at your store?

  • Matching Christmas pajamas are one of our best sellers. Our customers really like to have all their children matching in front of the Christmas tree for pictures on Christmas morning.
  • Christopher Pop-In-Kins the magical little Elf that “Pops-in” to children’s homes every Thanksgiving and returns to the North Pole on Christmas Eve to report a child’s good or bad behavior back to Santa Claus.
  • Lots of white and red Le Top turtlenecks, tights, hair bows, and other accessories sell very well as people pick up those last minute items they need to accessorize their child’s Christmas outfit.

3.    Any special events or fun holiday traditions that you have planned at your store for Christmas or the New Year? Tell us the inside scoop about any special events and especially the fun deals we can expect!
We start the holiday season out every year on the first Thursday of November with the Downtown Homewood Holiday Open House. All of the shops on our street stay open three hours later and offer special sales, food, etc to customers in their stores. The Jack n’ Jill Shop offers a discount on all holiday clothing and accessories that night.

On the first Sunday of December we hold our annual 50% off fall merchandise and 30% off Christmas apparel sale.  This event is huge and helps to clean out merchandise to make way for the spring items that start arriving during December.  

4.    What’s your favorite holiday tradition and or nostalgic moment and why? Whether it is decorating the Christmas tree to eating peppermint bark to lighting the menorah candles to baking in the kitchen, etc….


My favorite holiday tradition is making a German kuchen cake on Christmas Eve for my family. Kuchen is delicious yeast based coffee cake with a fabulous gooey cinnamon and sugar topping. This tradition was started by my grandmother when my mother and her sisters were small girls, continued with my mom baking it for my brother and me, and now I bake it for my family. 

5.    What would you suggest as the top 3 essentials in the winter that any parent should buy to brighten up their child’s wardrobe this winter?

  • A fleece jacket is a must for any child’s wardrobe.  Fleece is not only warm it washes and dries easily which is great for mom!
  • A lightweight crocheted or fleece hat is great for chilly days and nights. Lots of girls are now pinning a cute flower to their hat, which really adds a touch of wow!
  • A plain white cardigan is an essential for chilly Sunday mornings throughout the south so we stock them year round for our customers.

6.    What is your favorite holiday film past or present for kids/family?
My favorite holiday film is the first “Home Alone.” There is just something so cute about Macaulay Culkin and the ingenious ideas he uses to fight the burglars that try to break into his home. I enjoy watching this movie with my husband and son every year.

7.    Tell us…before you “had kids or grandkids, what is one thing you swore you’d never…?”
The one thing I swore I would never do is have a DVD player in my car to keep my child occupied during long trips. Needless to say there is now a DVD player in my car and In fact, I managed to get out during the wee morning hours of Black Friday to search out a new one this year!

8.    Describe the neighborhood of your store location in Homewood, Alabama? Did you grow up in the local area?
The Jack n’ Jill Shop is located in “Old” Downtown Homewood. The “Old” comes from the fact that the street hasn’t changed very much throughout the years. The buildings remain virtually unchanged since their inception. I grew up in Homewood, graduated from Homewood High School and even shopped in the Jack n’ Jill Shop as a child. The best thing about the Homewood community is the wonderful support the local businesses receive from its residents. People like to shop with us because of the deep tradition our store reflects within the local community. Not many stores have customers that can say they are the 3rd or 4th generation that has shopped at Jack n’ Jill.

9.    Where are the best/essential family hangouts and places to go around your store location?
The Jack n’ Jill Shop is nestled in between Sikes Children’s Shoes and Savages Bakery, which makes a very exciting shopping adventure for children and their families. Savages has been baking wonderful cookies, cakes, and pastries in the Homewood community since 1939. In fact, it’s quite a tradition for families to stop by Jack n’ Jill, purchase a holiday outfit, head to Sikes Children’s Shoes for their matching pair of shoes, and swing into Savages for either lunch or a special treat.

10.    What Le Top or rabbitmoon winter 2011 collection is your store’s favorite and why?
The favorite Le Top collection for my store this fall has been the Horsin’ Around & Primrose Pony brother and sister collections. Each year Le Top manages to create such an exceptionally cute Western group for both boys and girls. What child doesn’t dream of being a little Cowboy or Cowgirl! Thanks Le Top for continuing to create fabulous age appropriate clothing for children.

Jack n’ Jill Shop

2918 South 18th Street
Homewood, AL 35209

Click HERE to
Jack n’ Jill Shop’s Facebook page 



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It’s December! And only 20 days until Christmas! I just got back from Mexico and my fiancé and I plan to pick out our tree this week. I was thinking my Christmas ornaments needed a face lift or perhaps a few new ones to spice up the holiday tree – I found this great craft that is fun for the whole family and fuzzy too! Make one dove or a flock to decorate your tree! These ornaments are super easy, quick and great fun to make. The skills involved are very simple (tracing, cutting and gluing) which means the kit is appropriate for just about everyone! Each ornaments takes around 20 minutes to make from start to finish. I think they’re the perfect excuse to get your friends and family together for an afternoon of holiday crafting!

This post has been moved to our website:   http://blog.letop-usa.com/?p=22779.
Come visit our website and blog at www.letop-usa.com.  

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Winter is here and it can be easy to order-in Chinese or want comfort foods. Why not have a festive bagel wreath pizza that also incorporates veggies for your kiddos?! I always think this is a fun recipe that gives you the taste of pizza, but is also healthy and sure to keep your kids’ energy high on a fun play date.

Makes: 8 servings
Serving size: 1 bagel half
Yield: 8 bagel halves
Prep: 15 minutes
Bake: 10-12 minutes


  • 4 whole wheat bagels, split
  • 1/2 cup pizza sauce
  • 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups broccoli flowerets, steamed
  • 8 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 3 ounces roasted red sweet peppers


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil. Arrange the bagel halves, cut sides up, on prepared baking sheet. Spread each with 1 tablespoon pizza sauce. Top each with some of the cheese. Arrange broccoli and tomatoes on top of each to resemble a wreath.
  2. Cut peppers into long thin strips and shape each into a ribbon. Place on each bagel half.
  3. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until cheese melts and cheese browns lightly.


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Today’s Darling, Bailey Jane, comes to us from Louisiana. This 5 1/2-year-old cutie loves to play dress up (shown here in Le Top’s Rockin’ Reindeer stripe waffle shirt, fur-trimmed skirt with leggings and matching cap) and sing. She is so sweet!

Thanks to Melissa from Sweet Melissa Little Ones’ Boutique for sharing your granddaughter with us. Congratulations to Bailey Jane for being the Le Top Darling of the Day!

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It’s a special (shopping) day today! Cyber Monday! And just in time for your holiday shopping. My best friend is having a baby in February and is extremely stressed thinking about the cost of Christmas gifts on top of buying new baby furniture, baby clothes and kiddo type items to prep her apartment for her new arrival. What a better way to reduce that stress than by taking advantage of Cyber Monday deals today and save on holiday shopping (especially from your home or at work without the hassle of carrying heavy bags and the holiday mass rushes on the streets!). Her question to me, “What is Cyber Monday???” Well…here is a little debriefing, as well as our special Le Top (www.letop-usa.com) and rabbitmoon (www.rabbitmoon-usa.com) Cyber Monday deals and savings!

20% off + free shipping*
on all orders


Use online code LETOPCYBERFF11 at checkout.
Ends December 4th

* Offer valid on letop-usa.com only. Offer is applied at checkout with promo code LETOPCYBERFF11. Offer not valid on phone orders. This offer cannot be combined with any other promotion or sale items and cannot be applied to previous purchases. Offer valid through Sunday, December 4, 2011 11:59pm ET and shipped via regular shipping (5-10 business days). Le Top is owned and controlled by C.K. Enterprises and reserves the right to change or cancel this promotion at any time.

20% off + free shipping*
on all orders


Use online code RMCYBERFF11 at checkout.
Ends December 4th

* Offer valid on rabbitmon-usa.com only. Offer is applied at checkout with promo code RMCYBERFF11. Offer not valid on phone orders. This offer cannot be combined with any other promotion or sale items and cannot be applied to previous purchases. Offer valid through Sunday, December 4, 2011 11:59pm ET and shipped via regular shipping (5-10 business days). Rabbitmoon is owned and controlled by C.K.Enterprises and reserves the right to change or cancel this promotion at any time.

What is Cyber Monday?
Just as Black Friday represents the biggest physical store shoppingday, Cyber Monday is the biggest online shopping day, as people continue their Christmas shopping when they return to work. Mondays are good retail days for any online businesses, and typically, a Monday in December is usually when online retailers see their highest single day profit for the year. Why Monday? Now that over two-thirds of the American population have high speed internet at home, that trend of shopping at work has drastically reduced. People shop at home as well, but it’s still usually on Mondays. In this tough economy, people are looking for deals more than ever.

Background on Cyber Monday:
Despite the fact that Cyber Monday gets linked with Black Friday, it didn’t take off because of any drastic deals offered by online retailers. It was the perception of deals that propelled it. In fact, usually the products offered were those that didn’t sell on Black Friday. However Cyber Monday took off because of aggressive marketing campaigns by various online businesses who wanted to be a part of the buzz mostly conceived in consumer’s minds. Its fame eventually reached shoppers through word of mouth. The process of how Cyber Monday came onto being shows how important it is to relate to online shoppers in an organic way to ensure continued success.

Enjoy our holiday Cyber Monday deal and shop away! 🙂


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Black Friday is upon us, and here at Le Top we love to support our stores during the holiday shopping spirit! Check out a few of our favorite holiday styles for boys and girls – they are picture perfect for your holiday greetings portrait too! Make this season magic and shop Le Top holiday styles. Visit our Store Locator to find a store near you to find our festive collections!

Can’t find a store near you? Is it too chilly to leave the house today? Shop our Le Top online boutique: www.letop-usa.com to find your latest holiday fashions. Sign up and get in the loop to find the latest Le Top holiday steals and dealsCLICK HERE TO SIGN UP

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Growing up, my mom or my nanny would buy me an advent calendar – what child doesn’t love one? It’s a candy a day!! Of course now, many parents fill advent calendars with little toys or socks or tasty treats – the sky is the limit!

I wondered this weekend what the history of an advent calendar really is and where did it come from?

Here is a mini brief:

An Advent calendar is a special calendar that is used to count or celebrate the days of Advent. [Advent (from the Latin word adventus meaning “coming”) is a season observed in many Western Christian Churches, a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas in anticipation of Christmas.] Some calendars are strictly religious, whereas others are secular in content. Despite the name, most commercially available Advent calendars begin on December 1, regardless of when Advent begins, which can be as early as November 27 and as late as December 3.

Today, most Advent calendars are made for children. Many take the form of a large rectangular card with “windows” of which there are often 24; one for each day of December leading up to Christmas Day. One is opened every day during Advent.

The origins of the Advent calendar come from German Lutherans who, at least as early as the beginning of the 19th century would count down the first 24 days of December physically. Often this meant simply drawing a chalk line on the door each day, beginning on December 1. Some families had more elaborate means of marking the days, such as lighting a new candle (perhaps the genesis of today’s Advent Wreath) or hanging a little religious picture on the wall each day.

The first known Advent calendar was handmade in 1851. According to the Lower Austrian Landesmuseum, the first printed Advent calendar was produced in Hamburg in 1902 or 1903. Other authorities state that a Swabian parishioner, Gerhard Lang, was responsible for the first printed calendar, in 1908.

Lang was certainly the progenitor of today’s calendar. He was a printer in the firm Reichhold & Lang of Munich who, in 1908, made 24 little colored pictures that could be affixed to a piece of cardboard. Several years later, he introduced a calendar with 24 little doors. He created and marketed at least 30 designs before his firm went out of business in the 1930s. In this same time period, Sankt Johannis Printing Company started producing religious Advent calendars, with Bible verses instead of pictures behind the doors.

So today – why not make your own Advent calendar and count down to Christmas with a handmade calendar you and the kids can create. Using ornaments, baby socks, and photos, these charming, treat-a-day ideas make the holiday season even more merry. Slide pictures into postcard holders and hide them with numbered cards. Family members can transfer the pictures to a photo album or hang up this display. Enjoy and look at the picture and use the tools below to create a fun activity with your kids today!

Note: You can use swatches of decorative paper or even holiday wrapping paper instead of the numbered cards.


  • Heavyweight printer paper or decorative paper, 80 lb., 8 1/2 by 11 inches, in Natural White
  • 24 4-by-6-inch photos
  • Hanging postcard or photo holder (you can buy at www.exposuresonline.com)

Print out on 8.5×11 heavyweight paper, numbers 1 through 25 and then cut them out to the size of a postcard and slide the photos into the holder and cover with the papers.


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We travelled down south this week to get the scoop on the best store event in South Carolina and cutest clothes for winter – Southern Belles boutique. Not only do they have fun deals for Black Friday weekend (sign up as a Facebook fan to find out!), but also in-person silhouettes from trained artists from Walt Disney World – could we not ask for more? With the holidays just around the corner, Southern Belles offers a variety of winter and holiday clothes – they even monogram them too for your little special someone. We interviewed boutique owner (and child-clothing-boutique-guru), Susie Maloney, to find out about the cutest boutique in Mt. Pleasant, her Thanksgiving traditions, and even what she swore she would never do as a parent, and her favorite Le Top holiday collections. Read more to find out about this fabulous southern gem.

Southern Belles

280 W. Coleman Blvd., Suite J
Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464

CHECK-IN and JOIN Southern Belles’ Facebook page and click HERE

1.    Tell us the inside scoop about any special events that you have planned for your boutique for the holidays, especially the fun deals we can expect! Anything for Thanksgiving, Hanukkah or Christmas?
We are excited to have several events going on here at Southern Belles. This Saturday, November 19th, Silhouette Artist, Patti Rishforth will be here at our store doing in-person silhouettes. She began her career at Walt Disney World. We are booking up quickly and only have afternoon appointments left at this time, but it is well worth the $30.00 for the two silhouettes you get, and it only takes 10 minutes! There are also other items available with your child’s silhouette. Call today to schedule your appointment! 843-881-1741

On Saturday, December 3rd we also have two exciting events going on! Donna McMahon, Pastel Portrait Artist and member of Portrait Society of America, will be here doing in-person pastel portraits. This is the second and final time Donna will be here before Christmas. She also started her career at Walt Disney World in Orlando and now travels throughout the southeast working in many upscale children’s shops. Cost is $150.00 per person and you leave with your portrait in hand! Schedule your 30-minute appointment with us by calling 843-881-1741!

We’ll also be kicking off the holiday shopping season the Friday after Thanksgiving with all sorts of weekend specials! Follow us on Facebook or join our email list to be the first to know about this and all of our sales, events and promotions!

2.    Tell us the inspiration behind opening your own boutique? How did you come up with the name?
I was a stay at home mom with a toddler, and my hobby of designing children’s appliqué and embroidered clothing turned into a home-based business that eventually evolved into a storefront. Originally, my sister-in-law and I were going to open a retail shop together, and we wanted a business name to reflect something “southern” that wouldn’t restrict the kind of merchandise we would carry. We eventually came up with the name Southern Belles! (She decided that with 3 small children, the commitment of a retail shop might not be in her best interest, so I ventured out on my own.)

3.    We hear you have been rated “Best Children’s Shop” for 6 years running – what makes you a top boutique and a “go-to” for mom’s and families for children’s clothing, shoes and accessories?
I would like to think it’s a combination of excellent customer service and an inventory that is second-to-none. We are a full service children’s clothing store carrying girls’ and boys’ clothing in sizes preemie to 16, including shoes, accessories and gift items. Most busy moms just don’t have the time to shop all over for children’s clothing and gift items. They know when they come to Southern Belles, we can dress their little ones from head to toe, they can get the item monogrammed if needed, pick up a baby or birthday gift, get it giftwrapped, and be on their way! We are also conveniently located and accessible from anywhere in the tri-county area and beyond. 

4.    Please tell us 1 fun Thanksgiving tradition you had with your family as a child that you can share with our readers?
I can’t think of anything “fun” that we did, but we always had the traditional delicious Thanksgiving dinner that my mother prepared. (And you would think she was feeding an army!) She taught me how to set a beautiful table using all of the “good” china and silver, starched white linen table cloth and napkins, and we were expected to be on our best behavior! After dinner, some of us would go for a long walk. We lived in the country, and it’s beautiful in the south that time of year. Most of the men would gather around the television to spend the rest of the day watching football!

5.    What would you suggest as the top 3 essentials in the winter that any parent should buy to brighten up their child’s wardrobe this winter?
The first “essential” every child needs is a good winter coat. Even in the south we have days when a sweater or lightweight jacket just isn’t enough. Children’s coats are so colorful now and most of them come with matching hats and/or scarves. Secondly, colorful and patterned tights can really make a simple outfit “pop” and are an inexpensive way to accessorize. Thirdly, I would suggest a cute pair of shoes or boots…and there is no shortage of styles and colors this season!

6.    What is your favorite Thanksgiving feast or appetizer item that is your “go-to” – do you have any family recipes you can share or ideas for a kid’s snack?
I still like the traditional Turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce, sweet potato casserole, fresh green beans, macaroni pie, cheddar herb biscuits, etc., and my mother’s awesome pecan pie for dessert. Because my mother always has so much food for the main meal, we seldom have appetizers for fear that everyone will fill up on them and not enjoy all the delicious food he prepares!

7.    Tell us…before you “had kids or grandkids, what is one thing you swore you’d never…?”
Before I had kids, I swore I would never let my child run around in a business or restaurant, and I lived up to that! Being a business owner now, I wish other parents would be more aware of their children’s public behavior. I think we’ve lost a little something when it comes to being respectful.

8.    Describe the neighborhood of your store location in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina? Did you grow up in the local area?
My shopping center is called Northcutt Plaza Specialty Shops and is one of the oldest “strip centers” in Mount Pleasant. It is located in what used to be the heart of “old” Mount Pleasant, and is located just about a mile from the Arthur Ravenel Bridge that connects us to Charleston. Even though Mt. Pleasant had grown significantly in the 25 years I have lived here, it still has a small town feel. Most all of the retail shopping is within a ten-mile radius and is intermingled among residential areas. Mt. Pleasant residents no longer have to “cross the bridge” for shopping, as we are now a destination shopping area. I grew up in the Charleston area about 13 miles south of Charleston. 

9.    Where are the best/essential family hangouts and places to go around your store location?
In our shopping center, there is a Baskin Robbins ice cream shop, which is a favorite spot for kids and adults alike for a milk shake or ice cream cone. Right around the corner is a movie theatre called Cinnabar where you can order delicious food prepared on site and an adult beverage to enjoy while you watch your movie. We’re also lucky to live on the coast, so in the summertime, the beach is the place to be for relaxing and family fun. Mt. Pleasant has a new waterfront park and pier that has endless fun things to do for kids of all ages. You can fish off the pier or just relax and swing while you enjoy the delightful breeze and scenery of the Cooper River and marshes.

Featuring Le Top Frosty Days and Santa Surprise! Collections

10.    What Le Top or rabbitmoon Fall 2011 collection is your store’s favorite and why?
We always love the Holiday Collections by Le Top! The red and white stripe knit dresses (Candy Cane Cutie Collection) accessorized with the matching hat and red and white polka dot tights are one of our favorites for girls. Baby’s first Christmas footie, matching hat and blanket also gets kudos from us!

Southern Belles

280 W. Coleman Blvd., Suite J
Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464

CHECK-IN and JOIN Southern Belles’ Facebook page and click HERE


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There are holiday gifts and holiday cards but have you ever heard of the holiday allergy? 

Yes, it’s kind of a ‘grinchly’ thing to say but when the Christmas tree is set up in the home a segment of the population seems to experience a rise in allergic symptoms like itchy watery eyes, coughing, and the sniffles.

It’s hard to tell exactly what the source of the problem is but when it comes to both real and artificial trees the two most probable culprits are mold and dust.

For real trees mold is simply a part of nature and it’s very unlikely that during the time they are cut, stored and purchased that mold will just go away. Even if the mold level is low on the day a tree enters a home it could grow dramatically throughout the following few weeks.

Combine mold growth with the fact the tree is sitting in the center of an enclosed home and you have what could be a nightmare for people with allergic sensitivities.

When an artificial tree is being used allergies could be from mold but the deciding factor is usually dust related and directly connected to where the tree came from and how it was stored.

As we all know dust allergies are extremely common and no matter how well a home is kept once a tree that’s been sitting in the basement or attic for the last eleven months gets brought upstairs its prime material for an allergy attack.

Le Top "Santa's Helper" Collection Dress

That said, the best way to try and preempt issues from mold and dust on both real and artificial trees is before bringing them into the house hose them down well outside and let them dry in the sun. It may not remove mold permanently but will significantly reduce spores and wash away dust.

Le Top "Elves" Collection

That way when the family and friends are gathered for pictures and the kids are dressed up in Le Top’s elves or Santa’s little helper outfits playing around the tree everyone will breathe easier enjoying the time together.  

Finally, if you are worried about pollen check with the seller as to the variety of trees available since most blossom other times of the year and shouldn’t cause concern. Aside from pollen additional rare allergies that arise around Christmas from the tree are connected to sap and to pine itself.

Jakob Barry writes for Networx.com. He covers various home improvement topics including house remodeling and custom woodworking.

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