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My Drapery Dream Come True

April 15, 2011

This post is a long time coming, which is probably why I’m so excited to finally share it!  While we were still in Columbia, my friend Anna came over and gave me some suggestions and ideas for decorating.  A few weeks later she made a trip to an awesome fabric store in Raleigh and she saw a bolt of fabric that she thought would work perfectly in my living room and her sweet self was kind enough to get it for me.  It’s a very unique pattern that I love, and I’ve been dying to use it somewhere.  I didn’t know if I should recover some chairs, or make pillows, or drapes….  As I pondered on this decision, we decided we were going to move to Spartanburg for Scott’s job, so I decided to keep the fabric in tact until we bought a new house and figure out what to do with it then.

Fast forward and here we are at our new house.  I quickly decided the fabric would look best in our formal living room, and I used it to base my decisions for the wall color and the mantel.  I thought a bit of the pattern down the side of each drape paired with some brown fabric would look great while balancing the brown mantle that’s opposite the window.  So I got some brown fabric from Hobby Lobby and attempted to sew the drapes.

I couldn’t do it.  I didn’t have the space to spread all the fabric out, I didn’t know how to hem, I couldn’t get things square…it was awful!  I gave up and folded the fabric and put it away for a month until my mother-in-law offered to help me out.

Luckily Pam knows how to sew, and has made so many costumes and clothes and drapes that it would blow your mind.  She basically sewed them for me, and I’m happy to give her all of the credit because I do not intend to sew drapes ever again (though I am going to try some pillows with your help Katelyn!).  So here is a shot of our living room window without any drapes:

I took this one the night Scott hung the drapery rod, so it’s a bit darker:

Here’s my handsome man with his power drill…

and for some more eye candy:

So here they are hung up!

Aren’t they fabulous?  It adds so much warmth to the room.  I am in love with the pattern, so thank you Anna for your good eye and gifting me such beautiful fabric, and thank you Pam for sewing them into some gorgeous drapes!

So it took almost a year for this drapery dream to come to fruition, but it was well worth the wait.  Do you have an example where drapes or window coverings completed a room?  I want details!

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Vision for the front yard

April 8, 2011

Now that it’s spring, everything around our house is budding and blooming.  We had no idea we purchased a piece of property with so many hidden flower gems in it.  We also bought lots of ivy and weeds that need to be carefully plucked out, but we haven’t had time for that yet. Here’s one pretty flower that sprang up from the dirt without any TLC…

Pretty isn’t it?  It seems at some point the previous owners of the now Spivey Manor had a green thumb and enjoyed a variety of beautiful flowers.  The only problem is that before we bought this house, it was vacant for over a year, and we all know how quickly an untamed yard can go from well-groomed to exotic jungle.  I had a chance to clean out the front flower bed leaving two box woods and the Azalea bushes that are in full bloom.  The hubs also hug our Gamecock flag recently to help it appear that yes, someone is now occupying this house (we’re proud to be one of the few Gamecocks in the upstate, and no, we’re not afraid to show it!) because without any front porch furniture our house still appears to be empty.  Anyway, here is a picture I snapped last night of the front of our house.

Quickly I’d just like to say that I took this picture at around 7:30 p.m. and it just thrills me that it was still this bright out.  So Scott and I know we need to jazz this yard up, but neither of us knows anything about shrubs or flowers or landscape design.  We’ve been taking notes from our neighbor’s yards and driving around the “rich” neighborhoods to see what they do.  So after gathering a few ideas from others, and a trip to the library to pick up some books about shrubs and landscaping, I thought I’d Photoshop a picture plan for us to follow.  We don’t want anything that requires a lot of maintenance.  We’re out-of-town what feels like every weekend, so we need some hearty plants that are okay with not being watered for a few days but we still wanted it to be colorful.  Here’s what I came up with:

First things first, I “painted” the brick of our house.  I’m not particularly fond of the color of our brick, and I think a soft grey-blue would be awesome to help update it, but Scott hates the idea of painting brick.  A gal can dream.  I was hoping by showing what it would look like, that he’ll change his mind, but I doubt it.  So here’s what we’d need to buy for this “plan.”

1. New mulch

The mulch we have looks very dried out and gross and half of it is missing now that I’ve raked all the leaves and foreign debris that lived in this front bed for over a year. It certainly helps set a good base for the bright shrubs.

2. Variegated Hosta

I love the look of these around the front tree we have, but in past experiences I know it’s difficult to plant anything around tree roots, so I’ll have to research if these have shallow roots, but I’ve seen them planted around trees before, so I’m thinking this will work.  I’m guessing we’ll need at least eight to surround the tree.

3. Purple Diamond or Loropetalum

My parent’s neighborhood has tons of these and I love their deep purple sort of magenta color.  We’d need 6 or 7 (2 or 3 for the other side of the house that I didn’t include in the photo).

4. Juniper Lime-Glow

I adore the color of this plant, and as most magazines say, there’s no better color combination than purple and lime green for your garden.  The best part is these plants sound like they’re pretty hard to kill, which is great for me because I don’t have much of a green thumb.  I’m guessing we’ll get 5 of these.

5. Sago Palm

I used to babysit for a family who had a pair of these flanking their front door, and I loved it!  I like the idea of putting them in pots to help give some height and you’d less likely step on the frawns.  3 of these are on our shopping list (though Scott believed these to be expensive so we may wait to get these next year).

So there you have our plan.  If you see a problem that we’re unaware of (these plants don’t live well together, or require different soil or sunlight from one another etc.) please let me know!  Or if you have ideas for other low maintenance plants – I’d love some recommendations.  Not sure when we’ll actually get to buy and plant these, but when I do, I’ll be sure to share!

Green peas and ham

April 6, 2011

Today I’m sharing with you a recipe I’ve been meaning to try since New Years.  We went to Lake Lure with some friends and had a wonderful time together in a gorgeous log cabin.  Here’s a picture of our crazy crew:

Our makeshift tripod cut off the heads of Kyle and the hubs (sorry guys).  Anyway, our cabin had old magazines everywhere as most vacation houses do.  So as the gals sat around and chatted, we’d flip through them quickly glancing over the pages.  I picked up an old Cooking Light magazine and found the recipe I’m about to share.  I read it a few times and I just knew I had to make it.  I was going to copy the recipe down in order to preserve the magazine for future log-cabin-magazine-reader-visitors, but I couldn’t find a pen and paper.  After wrestling with my conscious, I tore the page out, justifying that it was from 2008 and it was okay to remove this one recipe simply because it was old.  My badgered conscious lost again when I “pinched” a Fresh Home magazine that I couldn’t stop flipping through.  My apologies to the cabin owners but your donation resulted in my purchasing a subscription to Fresh Home.

Anyway, the recipe got filed in my three ring binder filled with delicious dishes, until I finally re-found it and made a grocery list.  It has leeks and risotto in it – two things I have never bought or eaten.  So this checks off number 3 on my Goals for 2011 checklist!  Fortunately for me, the day before I made this meal, Ina Garten had a quick segment on her show about how to clean leeks.  I found that very beneficial, so if you are a leeks novice as well here’s a video to show you how to clean them:

So now that you can prepare your veggies properly, lets get on with the actual recipe!

Ham and Sugar Snap Pea Risotto

i n g r e d i e n t s :

4 cups fat-free, less sodium chicken broth
12 oz. bag of frozen sugar snap peas
2 tsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced leeks (about 2 medium leeks)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup uncooked Arborio rice or other medium-grain rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 oz. diced cooked ham (about 3/4 cup)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 tsp black pepper

d i r e c t i o n s :

1. Bring broth to a simmer in a medium saucepan (do not boil). Keep warm.

2.  Cook peas in microwave or on the stove top according to package.  Drain and reserve.

3.  Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add leek to pan and cook for 5 mins. or until tender, stirring frequently. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds.  Stir in rice and cook 1 min. Add wine, cook 2 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly.  Add broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion is absorbed before adding the next.  This process takes about 20 minutes.

4. Add ham to pan and cook 3 mins or until thoroughly heated. Stir in peas, cheese and pepper.

* * *

PRINT 4 X 6 RECIPE CARD HERE

The most surprising thing about this dish was that my picky husband actually LOVED it.  Not just liked, LOVED as in cleaned-his-plate-even-all-the-green-pieces!  In an attempt to be super healthy, I added 12 oz of sugar snap peas instead of 8 oz which the recipe called for, and it may have been overkill.  If you’re not a sugar snap pea fan, the recipe says you can substitute asparagus instead.

Now as a warning, this is going to require some arm power.  Stirring constantly for 20 minutes made my bicep hurt, but it’s sooo good that it was worth it.  So now I’m all about some risotto, and if you have a recipe you’ve made and want to share I’d love to hear it!

Pasta and Shrimp, yes please!

March 30, 2011

Although we’ve had torrential rain the past few days, we can’t forget the wonderful news that it is officially spring!  With the slightly warmer weather that we had last week I was in the mood to make a dinner that reminded me of the beach and warmer days to come.  For me that involves seafood and citrus.  Coincidentally, on a recent rerun of Barefoot Contessa, Scott and I watched Ina Garten make this amazing shrimp pasta that had us both drooling.  I made a mental note that the hubs actually wanted to try this dish, and the next time I headed to the grocery store I picked up all the necessary ingredients to give it a try.

The best thing about any shrimp dish is that it cooks so quickly, so this meal, which feels kinda fancy, is perfect for a hectic weeknight or a great option if you’re having company.  The recipe is great as is, but I added a sprinkle of Italian Bread crumbs and some grated Parmesan Cheese just to give it a little more flavor (I’ve seen Giada do this to pasta before so I knew it would work).

Lemon Parmesan Pasta and Roasted Shrimp

i n g r e d i e n t s :

1 pound of shrimp, peeled
and deveined
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
Half pound of whole-wheat
angel hair pasta
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 tsp Italian Bread Crumbs
1 tsp Parmesan Cheese, grated

d i r e c t i o n s :

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

2.  Place shrimp on a sheet pan with roughly 1/2 tbsp of olive oil, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.  Toss together and spread them out into one layer.  Roast for 5 to 8 minutes or until they’re pink and cooked through.

3.  While shrimp cook, drizzle olive oil in a large pot of boiling salted water, add the pasta and cook until al dente, about three minutes.  Drain the pasta and reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid.

4.  Quickly toss the pasta with the melted butter, a drizzle of olive oil, lemon zest and juice 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper, 1/4 cup of reserved cooking liquid and bread crumbs and Parmesan.

5. Add the shrimp and serve while hot.

* * *

PRINT 4 x 6 RECIPE CARD HERE

your turn: Antique Wooden Sign

March 28, 2011

After my visit to the antique store mentioned in this post, I had the itch to hang an antique sign in my house somewhere.  While at the antique store I saw plenty of old signs, but they can be really pricey if they’re real, and if you buy the new ones that look “old” they never really look old.

When we moved into our house and discovered the unfinished basement, it was full of treasures.  The previous owners left a really neat twin size wooden headboard, old gallon glass jugs, an old chair, some wooden crates and tons of random pieces of leftover lumber.  There was one piece in particular that caught my eye and came to mind when I decided I could make myself a cheap vintage sign.  Luckily I remembered to warn the hubs not to cut it to pieces after I gave him a table saw for his birthday…

It’s just a plain old board that was once painted white, but after years of wear, beautifully shows off the grain in the wood.  This was the perfect piece to create a sign from. In an episode of Sarah’s House, she hung a sign in the kitchen that I loved.

So I decided this project was going to benefit my kitchen.  I thought of copying the “Lunch served today” but the shape of my long skinny board wasn’t appropriate.  I settled on “Fresh Produce 5¢.”  So I went to my computer and made a template.  The font I used is one of my favorites: It’s called Phaeton.   Then I printed it out.

Then comes the hard part.  Cutting out the letters.  If you’re confident enough, you could just free hand some letters, but I wanted this to look real, and my handwriting doesn’t look vintage at all.  So I got out my exacto knife, and with the skills I acquired in my fine arts classes, I cut out each letter to form a stencil.

Then I just traced the letters with a pencil onto the board.

I used some leftover paint from painting our mantel chocolate-brown.  But I made a mistake that turned out to be a blessing.  It’s been a while since I painted the mantel, and the paint had separated a bit, but I didn’t stir it up.  As I was painting, some of the paint was more transparent in areas and more opaque in others, and it helped give the letters a more vintage feel. Once I let it dry, I rested it on the door frame in the kitchen.

I have to figure out a way to hang it, but for now, this is where it lives.

Now my kitchen’s side door is lookin’ so cute!  Do you like my little wreath I found?  Got it from Marshall’s for $15!  Have you ever crafted a “vintage” sign?  Send me some links to your posts, or pictures of your project.  I’d love to see!

And the award goes to…

March 24, 2011

Yesterday I got an award!  I’m not sure if I deserve it (and I most likely don’t) but I’m excited to pass it along to a few of my fellow bloggers out there.  The award came from my new-found friend Heidi, and it’s the Stylish Blogger Award. Thanks Heidi!  If you hadn’t received it already, you would be on my list to pass the award along to!

I’m not sure I’ve ever been considered stylish, but it’s something I aspire to be.  As a recipient of the award you must perform four duties:

1.  Thank and link back to the person who awarded you this award.

2.  Share 7 things about yourself.

3.  Award 15 recently discovered great bloggers.

4.  Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award.

So in order to receive the award, I have to share seven facts about myself (I’m choosing things I think most people don’t know about me), and pass along some award love, so here goes:

Seven random facts:

1. I was born in Germany.

Nuremberg to be exact.  My parents were stationed there for several years so that’s where we lived until I was around 21 months old.  Yes, it was on American soil so I am an official US citizen.  I obviously don’t remember it, but I’d love to visit sometime and see where Mom and Dad called home while I was a tiny little thing.

2. I’m double jointed.

Everyone has a cool human trick they can do.  I can put my hands behind my back, latch my fingers together and without separating my hands, bring them around my head to the front of my body.  It’s very strange-looking and I’m sure I’m going to have arthritis one day in my shoulders and elbow joints from doing it, but it’s a trick that could win an award itself.  You know how they say you can’t lick your own elbow?  False.  I can do that too.  Back when I was quite young, and our family would have human trick competitions, I’d also entertain them by putting one foot behind my head and doing push ups.

3. I always hear music.

I don’t know if this is normal or not, but I constantly have songs playing in my head.  I wake up every morning with a new song, and it can be a song I haven’t heard in years!  I know everyone gets a song stuck in their head from time to time, and that happens to me occasionally, but does anyone else just have a song playing in their head throughout the day?  I seem to have the best days when I wake up with a religious son in my head..How Great is our God by Chris Tomlin, or Come Thou Fount are some favorites.  This is probably the reason I like to play music constantly…it drives Scott crazy.

4. I’ve never been further North than D.C.

I took a field trip to Washington D.C. when I was in middle school but have never gone further north.  I would love to visit any of the New England states some day, preferably in the summer months when the weather’s bearable.

5. I never wanted to be a graphic designer.

Growing up I went through several ideas of what I wanted to be when I was an adult, as most children do.  At one point I wanted to be an animal psychologist so I could speak sign language to gorillas (I even got a sign language book and learned some words).  I wanted to be an orthodontist to help fix people’s smiles.  I wanted to be a forensic artist who can sketch faces from skulls but when I went and shadowed an artist, they told me I’d have to go through police academy and carry a gun, so I changed my mind.  I wanted to own a bakery (still do at times) and wanted to name it “decadent desserts” but I never thought I’d become a graphic designer until my senior year of college.

6. I am a huge cry baby.

I cry.  Often. It’s so bad I tear up if someone on television is tearing up.  I feel people’s emotions as if they’re my own so if I see you crying, I’ll be crying with you – literally.  I am very sensitive and any unkind word can have me crying for days.  I cry when I’m happy and when I’m frustrated and when I’m sad.  My husband deserves some “best shoulder to cry on” award for all the “snibbling” he’s had to listen to in the eight years he’s known me. My pillow always has mascara marks on it.  Growing up Mom always knew it was time for me to wash my sheets based on how much mascara was covering my pillowcase.  On average I probably cry at least twice a week.  Lately with my loneliness and dealing with so much change I’ve upped the ante to about every other day.  Poor Scott…

7. I love elephants.

I have always had a thing for elephants.  When I was four years old, my family went to San Francisco to visit family.  We made a trip to the San Diego zoo and I got to ride an elephant with my dad.  I remember that day like it was yesterday, and I believe it’s why I’m drawn to anything that’s shaped like an elephant.

So that wraps it up for me.  Here are the bloggers I’d like to pass along the stylish blogger award to:

1. Anna at Food Faith and Design

2. Caroline at Life on Lakestreet

3. Kathryn at Love and Baked Spaghetti

4. Ebonn at bumble & dola

5. Gabbi at We Love Food

6. Dawn at Everyday Ordinary Dawning

8. Christa at Je M’appelles

(most of my bloggers out there that I read have already received this award: Heidi, Brantley, Ashley, Katie, Nicole, Sherry, Jules and Sabra)

Check all of these blogs…they are all awesome!

Time and Time Again Antiques

March 22, 2011

I found the jackpot of antique malls close to Spartanburg on the way to Biltmore with my family in February.  Off the interstate was this very large building with some very enticing antiques out front.  The sign was luckily large enough for me to read from the interstate and the name was catchy so I didn’t forget it.  It’s called Time and Time Again Antiques in Inman, SC.  Here’s a picture of the building I got from their facebook page:

It’s quite large as you can see.  Last week when Lani my former office space mate, friend, fellow designer, sometimes business partner, came to visit me, we had a very delicious meal at Palmetto Palete and then had a gorgeous afternoon to do whatever we wanted.  Luckily Lani is a fan of a good deal.  She and her husband go to yard sales all the time and she finds some incredible items with insanely good prices.  I knew she’d be game to rip through this place with me.  So we looked it up and headed down the road towards Inman.

It was only 15 minutes away from Spartanburg, which was great, because we spent a good three hours combing through this store.  It is slam packed with amazing finds and their prices are very very reasonable!  I walked away with an old glass milk bottle, and a set of gorgeous drinking glasses.  Lani found a cool manikin hand to display jewelry, a unique chicken sculpture for her collection at home as well as an old jar with neat typography (leave it to two designers to appreciate that).

Here are a few pictures I snapped with my iPhone.  I didn’t remember to take many pictures but they may get you to make the trip and find some neat stuff of your own.

I found this chair to be quite charming.  I’d considered it for the downstairs living space because it has the brown and orange which match our sectional and terra cotta tile floors, but I had a hunch the hubs wouldn’t be a fan.  It was only $100!  It was in excellent condition – not a tear or sign of wear anywhere, but I was right. When I showed Scott the picture he said “I don’t think so.”  It’s still there so maybe it would work for you?

Another form of typography that stole my heart.  This dresser had a nice blueish-green stain that I loved, and showed off these very neat drawer handles with a hand written nameplate on each drawer.  If I could find the handles alone I would have scooped them all up but they were only on this piece.  Isn’t that handwritten “Indigo” beautiful?

I didn’t realize I had this fixation with old milk bottles until I was done walking through this store.  Every time I saw one I couldn’t help but pick it up and want to take it with me.  Some of them were very expensive though.  One had a price tag that read $185!  I suppose they are collectors items, but I settled for one very plain styled bottle that was only $9.  Here was an entire case plus crate for sale for $55.  I wanted it so badly, but I rationalized that I have absolutely zero purpose for 15 milk bottles, so I left it there but decided a picture would help ease my aching heart.

I’m not sure what part of these glasses I love the most, but I decided they needed to be mine.  The blue color made me think how great they’d look sitting around my kitchen table and the sparkle of gold was just too much for me to resist.  Luckily they had an entire set of eight for $25, so they are now residing in my house.  I’m sure one will make its way into a food shot in the future.

I snapped this picture of an old telephone booth just to show you the range in products they have.  For $2,500 it can be yours!  Trust me you have to check this place out.  If you’re interested see their information below!  What’s your favorite antique mall?  Please let me know if you have one I should check out (especially if it’s in the upstate area!)

Time and Time Again Antiques

1385 Meadow Farm Road | Inman, SC 29349

Hours:Mon through Saturday 10 to 5 | Sunday 1 to 5

864 578 1878 | http://www.timeandtimeagainantiques.com