Friday, September 28, 2012

Count Down

I've gotten a ton done while at home this week. Everything from doctor appts (including my free flu shot at Target . . . yay!), service appts. at Chateau Gahan (furnace cost me a little bit more than I had anticipated, but whatever), car service to prep for the roadtrip, fun diversions (Serenbe, lunch at Mom's yesterday, catching up on past TV shows, to the library — it's been awhile since I'd been and I forgot just how relaxing it is to lose oneself in the stacks), and packing and list making for the beach. Harleigh and I are doing Monday/Wednesday/Friday prayer time in the morning over the phone which is such a peaceful and grounding way to start each day. We get a good chat in and then settle into our time with God, together. I've enjoyed every minute of week #1, but am ready for a change. The TripTik is printed out and the beach is calling my name.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Perfect Day One

I considered yesterday the first official day of my three-week sabbatical. And what better way to sound the trumpet than a day trip to Serenbe to visit Ali. Her home is nestled in this little village of easy conversations, doors left wide open with no fear, pies cooling on windowsills, Opie skipping rocks on a still stream . . . I told Ali I don't know how she gets any work done; there's too much "nothing" to keep oneself busy and happy all day long. Her home — spectacular as I knew it would be:

And Serenbe is charming, downright cute:

Monday, September 24, 2012

Jewel-Tone Moroccan-Inspired Shower for Baby Girl Young

Amanda is a mommy of bold colors and graphic and simple flourishes. And so when she told me "no pastels for my little girl; I want bright jewel colors," I wasn't surprised. And I's smiling on the inside, knowing how fun a shower would be in all those glorious, rich colors. She peppered her Pinterest Nursery board with gold metallic filagree lamps and painted furniture that would make any little girl ooh and aah and feel like a magical genie in a bottle.

Co-worker Jenn (aslo Amanda's best friend) and I hosted the shower, preceded by several craft days. Our shower invitations were a nod to what was to come.

One truism that rang clear for this shower is that you shouldn't pass up something you see promise in just because you can't think of an immediate need for it. This was the case with three items featured here. The first, this ceramic elephant. I wasn't crazy about the blue and white, but the little critter just said "take me home and you'll find a place for me." And she found the perfect home. First, to grace the buffet table at the shower, holding pretzel rolls for the lunch. And then home to the nursery, perhaps as a side table for next to the rocking chair. I love when my finds turn into something spectacular (if I must say so myself). With a dress-up of paint, gold fabric tassel trim, cut-up gold paper doilies, teal blue jewels, and silk flowers, any little girl would find this pachyderm as much a buddy as she would Babar or Dumbo.

We forwent the fresh flowers in favor of brightly colored fake ones. It worked.

On the cake table, we took a Publix cake (white cake with raspberry filling 
and a cream cheese icing iced in an even spread) and gave it a gold elephant topper 
(bought plastic animals and spray painted them gold for the cake and to use as other decor). 
The tabletops got draped with saris. Lots of feather butterflies adorned the floral arrangements.

The two balls of flowers next to the cake are simply styrofoam balls covered in silk flowers 
and set upon jewel-colored spray-painted candlesticks.

For the door, these dollar store wings made the perfect statement that this shower is all about the girl. 
I took a styrofoam ball and cut it in half, glued it to the wings, covered it in flowers, 
then added a ribbon at the bottom and one at the top as the hanger. 
This went home with the mommy, another pretty piece for the nursery.

And of course, big brother Bryce got a little sumthin to remind him that he's special.

With Fall in the air, and the need to make the front porch look nice, 
I opted to get my pumpkins early and then decorate them in what I call "Cinderella Coach" chic.

My Eiffel Tower that I use to showcase framed pictures 
has forever been relegated to a behind-the-sofa table. 
I put it on a lazy susan and gave it a place of prominence on my coffee table. 
It really is too pretty to not be center stage.

Here's Jenn making her famous take on the Chopped Salad 
from Atlanta's Chops Lobster Bar Restaurant.
And the kitchen chalkboard got a new message for the guests!

The chair below is one Jenn found at a dumpster and gave to me. 
We call it the dwarf chair. It's legs are super short. It sets in front of my fireplace 
and is the perfect height for stoking the fire. 
Anytime we have a large group hanging out in the living room, 
the dwarf chair is usually fought over.

In the lower right image, even Gideon's Cynthia Rowley dog bed dons the jewel-tone colors.

Jenn and I took our two craft days to make the below gifts for Baby Young. 
The first are the animal clothing hooks. Purchased plastic animals got cut in half and adhered to painted wood plaques and backed with sawtooth hangers.

I talked about not passing up an item and reference the elephant above. 
The second were these two mirrors I found at a thrift store. 
I thought Harleigh might like them for her college room and planned on doing something with them. They were plain white plastic frames with the center mirrors. 
Nothing ever came of the project and they were forever taking up room in my garage. 
When Amanda mentioned wanting to put a big mirror above her changing table, 
these two became a great repurpose project. 
With gold paint, they will make quite a statement in the nursery.  
They have hangers on the back, but Jenn and I added ribbon to each corner on the back 
that can be tied in a bow on a nail above each mirror.

And the third repurposed item is the below pagoda type thingie. 
A guy at the office was cleaning out his house in preparation for a move 
and brought a bunch of stuff in to give away. This was one of the things. 
No one wanted it and he kept saying, "Dawn, are you sure you can't do something with this?" 
Well, I took it, and I made something. 
With a little paint to showcase the flowers on it (that match the cloth napkins — these, too, repurposed from Jenn's wedding shower), it became quite the statement piece.

And, of course, for a shower where the guests are creative, 
we forgo the games and get right to the crafting. 
We'd done the blocks for Molly's shower, and I wanted to do something similar, so opted for small canvases. Ripped easily from a bolt I've had forever, each was put onto a piece of foam core, secured with binder clips, and gessoed. When the guests were done painting (and these are only some of the 26 letters of the alphabet below), they were hung by gold-spray-painted mini clothespins to dry. 
Amanda will have the canvases and clothespins to hang 
any way she'd like (she can spell out words, change them out, lots of options).

Lots of paint and wine. Is there any other way to craft? 
And you can see Jessie in the background Instagramming the project. 

Let the Sabbatical Begin

Even though I was off of work last Friday, I consider that a day to prep for the baby shower on Saturday. And I roll Sunday into what was just checked off as a typical weekend day-two (although Sunday afternoon certainly had a different vibe when there's no thoughts of what lies ahead on a workday Monday. Ahhhhhh, it was nice).

And so today, let the three-week sabbatical officially begin. Off to Serenbe to spend the day with Ali Harper Wittorf. Have been waiting way too long to see the home she and her husband had custom built in the sweetest little corner of Georgia there is.

{Picture pulled from their webpage homepage slideshow.}

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Jewel Tone Shower

I love every single shower (baby and bridal) that I create. Each one gets my utmost attention to detail and pulls from the depths of my creative soul to capture the bride or mommy and her upcoming joy.  The baby shower this coming Saturday for co-worker Amanda, whose baby girl is due in early November, plays off of her nursery theme. Amanda is not a pastel kinda gal, but instead loves bold colors and graphic details. Here is a hint of some items from her shower (most of which will go home with Amanda to grace the little girl's nursery, each one crafted with eyes on the little angel who will find her room magical and made with love.

NOTE: A family tradition in Amanda's family is that the whole clan takes part in painting the nursery. This little girl's room is in a soothing gray with jewel-tone and gold accents that give it a Moroccan feel.

Friday, September 14, 2012


Transitional periods do this to me. And by transition, I mean 1) Harleigh back to school — and in her junior year of college no less — after a wonderful summer at home, 2) my birthday, now 52 years old, half my life completed 3) a three-week sabbatical right around the corner, a reminder that I've been at this job for 15 years, and 4) financial considerations on the horizon, everything from two cars in the family with mileage in the 6 digits to wishing I could downsize and move to a house with less yard.

It's a feeling of limbo. Taking one day at a time, even though I know I need to be looking ahead. Not knowing what things will look like a year from now, 5 years out, 10 years down the road. Wanting to find adventure in life, but at the same time craving constancy and safety. It's not a sad place to be, this land of Limbo, but it makes for lots of car rides with no radio on so that I can think about things. It's a concerted effort, once in bed, to stop the playlist of to dos in my head. And it's a bit of self flagellation over what I've not accomplished, the passions I've let fall to the wayside, and the chapters in my life story that I regret having penned.

Don't get me wrong, like my Blogger Profile says, "I'm probably one of the most content people you'd ever want to meet." And there's never been a more true statement. Here are some things I revel in being the quirky, average-looking, far-from-hot but gotta great personality, confident in who I am, middle-aged, single mom —

I can tell a cute bag boy at the grocery store that I could eat him with a spoon, 
and I don't come across as a cougar.
My gray hair can't come in fast enough. I love it. And I've earned it. It's a badge of honor, I suppose. 
I have no hair style to speak of; maybe someday I'll splurge and get a contemporary styled 'do.
When I leave myself voicemail reminders on my work and home phone, I always tell myself that I'm gorgeous and to have a good day.
I have raised my daughter to NOT be a card-carrying member of the entitlement generation.
If for dinner, I feel like eating corn out of the can standing at the kitchen sink, I can.
God willing, I'll have grandchildren to adore and love. 
For now, though, with Harleigh off at school, all of my nurturing tendencies get 
showered upon my handsome Old English Sheepdog, Gideon.
I literally wear my clothes (the same handful of pants, shirts, bras, socks, 
underwear and three pair of shoes) until they're threadbare, have holes in them or both. 
A fashion plate, I am not.
Being creative and laughing are two of my favorite pastimes. 
Luckily, I'm creatively blessed and 
have a dry (and most of the time, appreciated) sense of humor.
My faith is so important to me, as is my church.
 Being a follower of Christ lessens my everyday burdens. 
Life without faith would be a crippling existence.
Being alone is the least lonely thing I could imagine. It is by far one of my greatest pleasures. 
I have very few friends, and those I do have outside of the office are ones I don't keep in close contact with, but boy can we pick up right where we left off when we do connect. 
I love being with family, no doubt. But traveling alone, eating at restaurants alone, 
shopping alone, being at home alone, they're all doable and enjoyable at the same time.

The below collage captures some images from my Instagram postings. The owl cupcake birthday cake is one Harleigh made for one of her roommates, a cake inspired by Pinterest.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

'Merica, Mustaches & Medals

I just had to share. Last Friday Harleigh and Kasey went to a party themed 'Merica, Mustaches & Medals." To quote the party givers: "Celebrating the USA because it's the best country in the world, and we owned the Olympics. And, a key part of our heritage is mustaches." Not sure about that last part, but who cares. After a clean-shaven summer, Kasey had grown quite the beard. Knowing he was going to shave it off (with much encouragement from Harleigh), he decided to make it work in his favor for a costume. With Harleigh decked out in a hand-painted patriotic, but oh so trashy,"bathing suit" tee, he was at her side looking more like Hulk Hogan than anyone has a right to. Kinda creeps me out as any good costume should.

Monday, September 3, 2012


I was grateful this morning when I woke up that my daughter's boyfriend's family is as gracious, warm and kind as they are. I am grateful that I can call Kasey's grandfather Granpa, that I can show up at a family function with a cover dish and plop myself down in a lawn chair without feeling ill at ease, grateful that Karen, Kasey's mom, takes as many pictures as I do (so that we can both be equally snap-happy when it comes to capturing events on camera). Grateful that Harleigh is loved by a boy who in his own right is about as good as God makes 'em, but put him in the context of his family, and she's scored one heck of a package deal.

While on 4th of July we enjoyed ribs, Labor Day on the Brown property is all about the chicken. Barbecued in a giant grilling basket the size of a twin bed, and including a string of gizzards that disappeared within minutes of coming off the heat, the chicken was served up with every side dish you can imagine. Family members then brought out their instruments, and while kids swam and others napped on porch swings, we enjoyed bluegrass about as homegrown and soothing as you can get.

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