October 26, 2009

A Devilish little project

I have to give all credit for this project to my brilliantly creative uncle who originally posted these pictures on Facebook. He had seen some vintage devil lights a few years back, but at the price of $200, he passed them up. After lamenting this decision through the years, he decided to put his creativity to the test and make some of his own. First, he got $3 Santa lights at his local Dollar Store. He had seen these plastic devil heads for cheap and knew just what to do with them. He made a template for the holes (based on the Santas) and cut holes into the Devil heads. Then he popped in the lights and voila! I think this is a very cool example of taking inexpensive every-day objects and transforming them into something totally wicked (sorry for the pun).

October 20, 2009

Silver shamrocks!

October 1st marks the beginning of the Halloween season in my household and it is our favorite time of year. Some of our decorations are spooky, some not so much.

I try to use lots of fall-ish stuff so it can hold-over into the month of November too. We have very important Halloween traditions that must be followed every year. Last night we watched "the Legend of Sleepy Hollow," (the old Bing Crosby Disney version) and we're saving "the Great Pumpkin" for closer to the 31st.

We've already read "the Witchy Broom" (yes, aloud...my southern beau is a good sport) which is my favorite scary story from childhood. My first pumpkin (from September) already went to the pumpkin graveyard, but there are plenty more to take his place. I love the Cinderella pumpkins, they just seem magical to me. Since my dog Leon ate a squash last year, I tried to keep them all contained (and not so close to the ground) this time around. So far, so good.

I probably won't dress up this year for Halloween, although I have many great memories of fun costumes through the years. One year I was a bunch of grapes, with purple balloons stuck all over my 7-year old self. Another year I dressed up as a nurse.

One thing that makes me sad is it seems like lots of people are anti-Halloween these days. I guess I understand where they are coming from with the p.o.v. that it is the devil's holiday. The funny thing to me is that my devout Freewill Baptist grandparents (who didn't even believe in tv) got the biggest kick out of Halloween of anyone I know. I have vivid memories of dressing up and going to their house for treats every year. I grew up thinking that if they were for it, it was right up there with Christmas!

July 17, 2009

My beach reads!

Here are some of the books I am taking to the beach with me next week. Hopefully they are really good ones and worth the extra weight in my luggage. To me, beach vacation = sitting by the water, reading, breakfast at Peach Valley Cafe, thrift store shopping, and family.

July 16, 2009

Flowers + antioxidants

I heart eddie ross. I never watched whatever design reality show he was on, but as for his website, it is a daily stop for me as I comb the blog world. I just had to share his latest creation. He used dahlias (from his own garden), snapdragons and purple grapes! I love this so much! What a great way to use food in a non-typical way. It made me think of all the other foods one could use in design. Floral arranging/design is something I have not delved into, but the more I see, the more inspired I am. Maybe one day I will have a real garden of my own...a girl can hope!

July 15, 2009

A tasty salad

I sort of adapted this recipe from another dish served at Sunspot. It gets better after a couple of days.

  • 2 cans of chick peas (garbanzo beans)
  • balsamic vinegar
  • parmesan cheese (the real stuff...not the stuff in the green can)
  • pimentos
  • chopped artichoke hearts

Just mix all the ingredients together (adjusting vinegar to your taste) and enjoy. A very quick little summer salad. The picture is not of my salad but it does have chick peas in it so there. (from bonappetit.com)

June 30, 2009

The Goods: Sunscreen

I have gone round and round with sunscreen, specifically for my face. I have that skin that freckles as it tans so even though I can turn a brownish color for the season, my freckles are here to stay. Last year I was committed to wearing sunscreen daily (even in the winter) and it caused more problems than it corrected. I guess I should just come to terms with the fact that I have super-sensitive skin and pretty much anything has the potential for adverse reactions (a.k.a. breakouts...yuck!).

So I gave up on wearing sunscreen for awhile, but now that we are in the throws of summer and I don't want to look old before my time, I've given it another try. But why is it so hard to find one that works for me? Sometimes I stand in the aisle at the drugstore looking like a lost puppy...hoping that one of the brands will just jump off the shelf. Does anyone else feel like shopping for sunscreen requires dermatological expertise? I decided to try several brands and hope for the best.

Maybe it was timing or maybe these newer formulas are just better, but I couldn't be more pleased with the ones I am using now. For my face I love Aveeno Ultra-Calming formula in spf 15 and if I'm not wearing make-up, Garnier Nutritioniste spf 28. I also rub this one on the backs of my hands (they get lots of sun while driving). I like Neutrogena Sensitive Skin spf 60 for my neck & decollete which manages to get sun even when I don't mean for it to (wearing v-necks, tanks tops, etc.). We have enough wrinkles to look forward to thanks to gravity...I don't want to help that process one bit.

Finally, I keep a generic (CVS storebrand) bottle of wanna-be Aveeno Lotion with Colloidal Oatmeal spf 15 in my car so I can slather it on my arms if they seem to be getting too much sun while I'm driving. I try to wait until stopped at a red light to do this, so don't worry! Am I obsessed with sunscreen? probably, but as a former Vacation Burner and Tanning bed visitor, I think I have much to make up for.

June 17, 2009

Something is familiar...candle deja vu

I just love unique little local shops that offer a certain special experience for the shopper. When you walk in, somebody stops what he/she is doing and greets you. There might be a little plate of cookies and a coffee pot or a tea carafe for you to help yourself to. And always a wonderful smell that floats in the air and makes for a much pleasanter experience. If you couldn't tell, smells are big with me. I can't help it. So anyway, in one particular shop that I visited recently, as soon as I walked in the door, this delicious warm vanilla scent overtook us and I had to find its source. It was a big-ish jar candle with a cute green label claiming it was created locally (Maryville, TN). I think it was around $20 and I seriously was considering buying it so I could take this smell home with me (you know this is big because I'm cheap), but upon closer inspection of the label, I thought to myself: "I've seen this before...I have this candle!" Sure enough, when I got home I found a brand new version of the exact same scented candle that I had loved so much in the store. Of course mine had a $1 price tag, as in yard sale price tag. Why would somebody sell a great (great smelling too) candle such as this at a yard sale? Maybe only so I could buy it and save $19 to spend at another yard sale. I don't know. But now my house smells like warm vanilla (Creme Brulee to be exact) and I can get that same invited feeling everytime I go home at the end the day. Apparently these candles can be sold as some type of fundraising thing and would seem to have a pretty good appeal. www.laurelmountaincandles.com is the website and there are tons of other scents in case warm vanilla heaven isn't your thing.

June 16, 2009

A dash of silver

Sometimes it can be so fun to get away for the day and pretend you are on a vacation. I suppose anytime you escape in any form or fashion can be considered a mini-vacation. Well I did just that this past Saturday. In the nearby town of Clinton, antique stores abound and time seems to slow down a little bit. I suggest, no, insist that you start with lunch at Hamock's Perkadeli. There are two kinds of chicken salad (both delicious and yes, I tried both!), wonderful soups, yummy salads and all sorts of sweet treats to end the meal. And you will definitely need to eat so you have the strength to endure walking and shopping in the nearly 20 different specialty antique stores. I lucked out and found this sterling salt and pepper shaker set for $10. It always cracks me up how people sell silver for cheap just because it happens to be tarnished. Obviously the one on the right is the before. A little Wright's Silver Polish and elbow grease and you have the one on the left. Now they are both sparkling and displayed prominently at my house. Yay antiques!

June 15, 2009

Souvenir del mar

I was fortunate enough to visit New Orleans several years ago (pre-Katrina) and I found it to be the most interesting place. I think it might be one of those cities everyone should visit at least once in his or her life and I'm glad to have been able to see it when I did. During my stay, we rode the St. Charles Ave. streetcar over to the Garden District and spent the day just walking around, taking in the sights. In and around the massive homes (neatly tucked behind security gates), were lots of little eateries and shops with local art and wares. In one particular shop, I spotted this cheeky mermaid and couldn't resist bringing her home with me. Her lower body is the painted half of a coconut and I think she just has such personality. I love things like this that someone actually spent time creating. I don't think she cost all that much, but to me she is absolutely priceless. I have always had a thing with mermaids and she is the perfect addition to my (growing) art collection. Maybe I'll find a merman to keep her company!

June 10, 2009

TGI Wednesday

Wednesdays have always been pretty much my favorite day of the week. Every Wednesday isn't the greatest, but for the most part, they are smooth sailing and they signal the gentle downward slope of the work week as we know it. Today was awesome because I was able to spend some of it with Leon's Diva Grandmama (aka my mom) and we had a wonderful lunch together. I have never been a huge proponent of the popular chain restaurant TGI Friday's. I'm so glad we branched out and tried it today though, because I may have had the greatest salad of my life. Topped with mandarin oranges, blue cheese crumbles, dried cranberries and pecan-crusted chicken, the salad was tossed in balsamic dressing. It was heavenly. Of course eating it across the table from my lovely ma didn't hurt either. What a wonderful treatie and a good way to spend a Wednesday too.

May 28, 2009

An apple a day

This apple cookie jar sat on the top of my grandma's refrigerator for as long as I can remember. When she went to heaven and we were dividing up her kitcheney things, it was not one of the more popular or highly coveted items. I didn't have any particular connection with it (or so I thought), but when I saw it in the pile of things being donated to the Habitat thrift store, I just couldn't bear to see it go that way. So I brought it home and now it happily lives on top of my refrigerator. Even though it might not seem like my kitchen style, it fits perfectly and reminds everytime I look at it of my grandma and the love we all felt in her kitchen. As a side note, a quick google of 'vintage apple cookie jar' helped me to learn that it is a piece of Hull pottery and an identical one is going for $100 on ebay right now. Not that I care because I'll never sell it. I don't actually use it for cookies, but it is a perfect place for matches and spare keys.

May 18, 2009

Let your light shine

For a while, I was very "lamp-poor" and only had those cheapy plastic-domed halogen lamps, but lately I've been scoring big time in the lighting department. I found a pair of painted wooden lamps at a yard sale recently for $6 and with new linen shades, they look pretty comparable to pricier ones I saw at Urban Outfitters. They are the perfect addition to my bedside tables. I added ribbon trim that can be removed if I change my mind. Then this weekend's bargain was a super cute lamp with a clear acrylic base (similar to the one on the right) for only $5! Yay! It looks pretty good in my room and I have a feeling that I'll be tweaking things so that it looks great. My decorating is a work in progress, but that is the fun of it. If everything was just how I wanted it, I would get bored so fast!

My stylish pooch

This weekend turned up some real gems in the yard sale loot department. One little trinket that caught my eye immediately was a Vera Bradley dog leash. While I'm not really a fan of Vera's purses and luggage, her print looked really cute on this leash. The one I got for my big guy is not this exact fabric, but is a very adorable western-ey red paisley. The tag from the store (still attached) said $17 (gasp), but for the yard sale special price of $3, I say it was definitely worth that. I can't wait to take my pup out on the town so he can show off his stylish new digs.

May 7, 2009

Southern hospitality never smelled so good!

Lately, I have been discovering some really neat hidden gems in the way of thrift stores. The reason these gems are such an untapped resource? I think some people may be afraid to step foot inside, but I say never judge a book or a store by its appearance. And what does it hurt to have a look?...nothing is lost anyway. Two of the treasures I found recently were at a little shop aptly named "Thrift Store." I found these great candles (brand new) for $5! They are from the Harry Slatkin collection for Bath & Body Works. I love the pineapple shapes and they are big enough (almost a foot tall) to make an impact. They are so bright and clean and both smell really yummy. One retails for $40 and the other for $20 so needless to say, I probably would have passed them up at b&bw. but $5 is just up my alley. Yay candles and yay for being adventurous!

May 6, 2009

April flowers

This little plate is very near and dear to my heart. Actually there are four little plates just like this one with simple yellow flowers and brambly looking leaves. These plates belonged to my great grandmother (also near and dear) who would use them to serve me my favorite breakfast delicacy: cheesy eggs. Thus coined "the cheesy egg plates," I really hoped that they would be passed on to me and yay! they were. I never knew anything about them because they held such sentimental value, I couldn't imagine them being anything too valuable. According to the stamp on the bottom they are Peter Terris china, but that's all I had to go on. Ah the glory of google! I was browsing replacements.com (a favorite site of mine) under Peter Terris' collection and lo and behold, the first pattern I looked at was called April. Here is the dinner plate from this pattern. Recognize those little yellow flowers on the lower right of the plate? Upon further investigation, I found that my plates are actually the salad plates from this pattern. There aren't many available to buy, but there is an adorable litle gravy boat with green ivy as well a sugar bowl with a wooden lid. I just love the whimsical placement of the flowers and even though all the pieces aren't the exact same design, they go together so well. While most of the treasures I received from my grandmother cannot be seen, these plates serve as a reminder of her repeated acts of love to a little curly-haired girl sitting down to cheesy eggs, with yellow flowers underneath.

May 5, 2009

isaac + liz = yay!

I have always loved the liz claiborne brand (to me it embodied classic womenswear) and now that Isaac Mizrahi has taken the helm as creative dir., it seems like just the push LC has needed to make it a little more young and modern. I think the print ads are so cute and I love how IM sneaks himself into the frame, with his trademark bandana no less! You will find me scouring the sale racks at Belk for any and all of these pieces, I guarantee it.

May 1, 2009

I heart cupcakes in the springtime!

There is nothing in the world like a cupcake. I know they are uber-popular as of late and everyone has jumped on the craze, but what's not to love? Small & sweet. Cute & delicious. For a long time, my heart belonged to MagPies alone. This Knoxville bakery pretty much delivers the goods. As the humble cupcake's popularity has grown, a couple other shops have opened in town that give them a run for the money. Mind you, nobody can take their place. White cake/vanilla icing cupcakes at MagPies can't be beat. Cities Cupcakes has a great strawberry version they call "the Paris" (all the flavors are named for a different city) and the CupCakery's Tuxedo cupcake is also a big favorite within my inner circle. Even if you aren't a foodie or a sweet-lover extraordinaire, I dare you to eat a cupcake and try not to smile. They just have that effect on people. Now go get one!

April 21, 2009

Little pitchers...

This little trinket is not a new find, but still one that I really like and use often. Italian glass company Bormiolio Rocco supposedly dates back to the 1800s and even though this is a new piece, it feels kind of vintage because of its simple shape. These come with an airtight lid (mine is blue) and are perfect for storing liquids in the fridge. It comes in handy as a cream pitcher and you can easily write the expiration date on the glass with a dry erase marker. While these aren't very expensive brand new ($10-20), I got mine for $1 at a yard sale...Surprise, surprise!

April 20, 2009

More Candles for a steal

Among the weekend's yard sale treasures were some great boutique candles (one of my current obsessions) for cheapity-cheap. First, a still-in-the-box Capri Blue candle by Aspen Bay. The one I got smells of Peeled Navel Orange and it is heavenly. It is the perfect bedroom candle because it is fresh and light, just the right scent to mingle with the heat of summertime. These retail at Anthropologie for around $18 and I got mine for .50 cents! yay! Next, this Yankee Candle in the largest size (retail $24.99, yard sale $1). double yay! These might not be considered 'boutique' because they are so mainstream, but I say costing twenty-five dollars bumps it into that category. This one smells just like fresh tulips. I'm so glad the recession hasn't impaired my need to surround myself with good smells...even if some people think a candle is a generic gift. From me to me, I'm always happy to get one!

The San Franciscan treat

This weekend's yard sale excursion turned up a real treasure. At a local church sale as I was browsing a large selection of glassware and other collectibles, I spotted a stack of beautiful dishes. They were precariously stacked and taped together so it was hard to tell which pieces were there, but I knew from one look that I loved them. Pale robin's egg blue with a platinum rim, I didn't care if they weren't particularly valuable because for the price ($8 for all), they were gorgeous enough to be worth it. Of course when I got home I immediately looked them up online. How shocked was I to find that they are Franciscan China from the mid-1950s. Their pattern is dawn and they are in perfect condition. I have three complete place settings including darling little cups like the one pictured. So my $8 investment is actually worth 20x that. Not a bad little gamble I have to say.

April 16, 2009

A silver lining

In 1953, my grandmother was a senior at Oak Ridge High School. Along with all other young lady Wildcats graduating, she was invited to Loveman's Department store to get her sterling silver spoon. Each of the graduating senior girls was gifted a spoon in the pattern of her choice, a gesture which would hopefully create a relationship and a repeat customer as the girls were building their silver sets. Patsye chose International Silver's brocade. When she gave her silver to me last year her collection had grown to around fifty pieces. Each one represents a birthday, Christmas or anniversary gift from my grandfather to her and a happy memory of receiving it. While the value will most likely increase with time, it will always be overshadowed by the sentimental worth which will grow and grow. I hope to add to her collection and pass it along one day with more pieces and more stories behind them.

April 13, 2009

Do-it-yourself Antiques Roadshow

Everyone seems to be looking for fun, family activities to do on the cheap. I love a good story so I am naturally drawn to anything with a past...especially antiques. It seems I am not the only one, what with the rise in popularity of the PBS program 'Antiques Roadshow.'

Years ago, one would have to be a knowledgeable antiques dealer or appraiser to identify the origin and value of your antique treasures. These days, all you need is a computer and dedicated ethernet services that connect you to the world wide web. With the power of Google at your fingertips, you can locate and identify just about any attic treasures you may have.

This weekend, my folks and I whiled away the hours of an afternoon playing our own version of Antiques Roadshow, going through my mom's china cabinet and looking up different pieces of her collection to see just what they were and how much they might be worth.

Of course it helps to have a house full of antiques at your disposal. We were able to identify a set of Hazel-Atlas glassware in Moroccan Amethyst that belonged to my dad's mom just by Googling 'purple vintage glassware.' We also found out that the vintage brown canister set (that lives above the microwave) is the Moon and Stars pattern made by Smith Glass Co. We may not have a Rembrandt in the attic and score that million dollar find, but we have a ton of other stuff. And it can be pretty neat to learn how things ended up in the china cabinet.

Are you a collector of things like this? Have you ever thought about taking your collection on the Roadshow to see just what it is worth? You never know what treasures you might have!

April 12, 2009

Sit down, you're sinkin' the boat!

This little treatie helped me to enjoy a belated birthday celebration, beachside at a favorite seafood eatery, Aunt Catfish. Fudge pie, coffee flavored ice cream, a rich chocolate shell and real whipped cream!! Aptly named "the boat sinker," there was enough sugar to go around so that everyone at the table got a taste. Even the non-foodies got a little excited! I have an 'after' picture of the plate licked clean if you don't believe me!

April 9, 2009

Sweet life

I can't help but get drawn into the commercial aspect of Easter. Even though I could never forget or lessen the importance of the real reason for this holiday, I have to say that all the pastel colored sweets speak my name loud and clear. And that doesn't even begin to cover the sweet love in my heart for woodland critter shaped slabs of chocolate...bring on bunnies, squirrels, lambs, gophers, etc. Maybe I should say that this stuff is more a symbol of Spring to me, instead of a symbol of Easter. Either way, I hope that those of you who love Peeps get a basket full of them. I'll give you all of mine too!

April 7, 2009

Try before you (don't) buy

As a curly-haired person, I live my life in a constant pursuit of the next great product to de-frizz and perfect my tresses. When I read about Ojon's Restorative Treatment, I knew I had to have it. Thankfully, I tested it before making the purchase because no matter how great it might have made my hair look, it smelled like stale cigar smoke. Or as my trusted scent advisor put it, "like a pretty girl who smokes and covers up the smell with lots of perfume." I don't want that, now do I?

April 6, 2009

Good enough to eat

When I look at my bank statement, it is obvious what category that I spend most of my money on: cosmetics & toiletries. Every ad promising tighter, firmer, glossier, etc. calls out to me and I have to try the product being pushed. My bathroom is filled with every product imaginable, but I do use them or pass them along so someone else can. I found this Philosophy 3-in-1 (brand new) at a yard sale for $1 and now I'm addicted. It smells just like my favorite ice cream and it works great as bubble bath or body wash. I probably won't try it as shampoo even though the label says you can. Of course when I run out, I guess I'll have to break down and pay retail for it (unless I stumble upon it again during a bargain excursion). Keeping my fingers crossed!

April 1, 2009

Isaac's Style Questionnaire

I just finished reading How to have Style by the fabulous Isaac Mizrahi and I am calling it a must-read for anyone who feels slightly blah (or a lot blah) about his/her closet as of late. Speaking of feeling blah, I guess that segues into an introduction of myself and this blog.

I'm a southern gal living in Knoxville, Tennessee, trying to seek out the lovely things in life. I grew up in a small town but have lived in the big city of K-town since 2000 when I began college at UT to study art history. After that, I decided to go back to school and study communications -- specifically PR.

After finishing my master's degree in public relations, I just knew I'd land my dream job right away...fast forward a couple years later to the present and still no dice. I feel blessed to have my current job as a visual media librarian in a university art department, but it's not exactly what I'd hoped I'd be doing after I graduated.

At one point, I considered pursuing a degree in library science or even a master's in information technology, but I really wanted to pursue my love of art by getting a masters in PR so I could hopefully work in an art museum.

That's how I came to start this blog...as a little creative outlet for myself during a creativity dry spell in my life.

Reading Isaac's book inspired me and I think it will inspire you too. I think this book is just the thing to give you a needed boost. It is all about taking what clothes you have and doing more with them. In the beginning of the book is a neat little set of questions for the reader to answer and ponder. I am in the process of overhauling my own closet and this book was a great little how-to manual for along the way.

And speaking over overhauling, I'm also working on overhauling my life...one blog post at a time. Thanks for joining me and I hope you'll stick around for the journey.