Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Cookie Swap 2013

With the over-the-table decor still up from The Feast, it only made sense to move the annual Cookie Swap to the Big Table where we could enjoy the forest ambience. Added some snow, gum ball and candy garlands, glass balls, and a few glittery birds to make the forest into a Hansel and Gretel wonderland.

A traditional part of the tablescape is the Christmas carousel. I got this one back in the '80s from Lillian Vernon for like $20. They're much, much pricier now, but worth it.

Milk and water pour from Crate and Barrel bottles adorned with red ribbon.
Our office Christmas tree and fake fireplace (made of white foam core, with fake electric logs).

Monday, December 9, 2013

Deck the Halls

I don't know how you'd describe my Christmas decorating style.
It's a mix of tacky and tasteful.
Pastel and primary.
Vintage and modern.
Sorta all over the place. 
And it works, at least for me.

A Dollar Tree glittered ribbon adorns the hallway portrait 
of my Dad from his art school days.

And a big one graces the lampshade
in Harleigh's bathroom. 
The hallway sports the same treatment as last year —
white wreath on the linen closet door, and a 
stash of candy canes tied in ribbon and leaning in the corner.

The dollhouse on the hutch got a little flocked Christmas tree.

The trio of elves found a new home this year on a shelf in the study.

A small tree with glass ornaments sets atop the fridge.

And there's one in the foyer on the desk.
One of Gideon's favorite perches; he can look out the window at the front yard and street.
The paint along the floorboard is all chipped from where his nails have worn the paint.
I can't bear to repaint it. It would be like painting over the pencil tick marks on a door jamb where you've documentedyour children's heights over the years.

A tacky vintage reindeer on the hutch.

A vintage enamelware tub with pink poinsettias.
The cuckoo clock always gets a bottle brush wreath on the cuckoo's door.

Ice skates and the vintage sled I got at a yard sale for $5.

My favorite addition this year. 
The chalkboard-painted canvas from our Feast (used it as the menu)
with Linus's monologue from 
A Charlie Brown Christmas.

One of my crafted gifts this year, for my niece who is in graduate school studying Library Sciences.
Earlier this year, Spoonflower was offering a free square of any of their fabrics.
I dug around and found this card catalog fabric.
Made it into a little pillow.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

My Medal Winner!

She'd been training her little hiney off.
And preparing herself mentally for her first big race.
Thanksgiving morning, 7:30AM to be exact.
And the coldest Thanksgiving since 1911.
She did it!
Said she simply wanted to run the entire race, no walking. 
That's my girl. 
I stood at various spots along the race route, rooting her and her friends on,
a smile *literally* frozen on my face.
Blessed and thankful.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Feast 2013 — A Feast in the Forest

In my last post, I showed some before pictures of our main conference room, the site for this year's Feast (the annual company Thanksgiving meal).

If you go to the event links on the right sidebar of my blog, you'll find past years' Feasts.
Each one special and themed, all of them with attendance upward of 35 people.

But this year, we're a smaller group.
The number alone called for a different setting, one that wouldn't dwarf our fewer peeps,
AND still capture the special quality that we've always come to associate with this favorite tradtion.
So after years of renting four 8-foot tables to make a single, rather royal length of table, 
The Feast 2013 became a small, intimate gathering,
a cocoon of family and familiarity.

When I knew that the venue was moving to the conference room, I was drawn to the ceiling. When you work in a train roundhouse with vast, two-story ceilings, a room with a traditional, gridded drop-ceiling goes from ho-hum norm to creative inspiration. The idea of hanging something was my starting point.

On my way to and from Gideon's groomer month after month, I'd passed a fallen tree, its branches covered with pinecones. Sheer intrigue. And so, armed with my limb cutters, I filled the back of my SUV with enough branches that I knew would create a forest canopy when hung from the ceiling in the conference room.

The forest theme was cemented.

Suspended from T-bar hardware, fishing line and S-hooks, the branches were a piece of cake to hang.

I used the standard drop cloth table coverings we've used for years.
Office chairs had to be switched out for rentals that fit the theme much, much better.
Tree slices were used for chargers, with bits of reindeer moss or fern fronds as accents.
Live ferns nestled into wooden salad bowls and surrounded in spanish moss 
made the table feel like it was part of the forest floor.
I rallied delicate china from home, perfectly accented by gold utensils borrowed from a co-worker.
Napkins were cut from soft, laundered linen. Then the utensils were tied in vintage ribbon, bias tape and hem tape — in delicious colors — and laid on each napkin.
Water and wine glasses were set at each place.
Tea lights in a variety of jars formed a magical table runner.

[NOTE: In my previous post, I alluded to the hanging jars with tea lights that would hang from the branches. When Jessie and I staged this, we both stood back, viewed it, and agreed that it was too much. This is why we went with the jars on the table.]

The pushpin wall got a complete overhaul with a printed mural. Jessie found the perfect image, doused it with the Sutro IG filter, and output it onto a matte paper. Rather than try to create a single sheet, we opted for printing it out in strips and tearing the vertical edges of every other one. By overlapping every other one (the torn strips always on the top), the look became less contrived-mural and more art installation (Jessie was the genius on this one; you go, girl). The outcome, ethereal — a mash-up of Twilight, The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe, and my own cheesy connection to every unicorn scene in Legend (with Mia Sara and Tom Cruise). Don't hate me.

Ages ago, Buzz had given me a large canvas that he was planning on dropping off at The Salvation Army (well, actually, I saw the piece in his trunk and begged to take it off his hands). I wound up priming it and stashing it in a corner of my garage, ready for the day when I'd feel inspired to paint a masterpiece. When Jessie and I brainstormed, she brought up the idea of a large chalkboard menu . . . oh lordy, did I have the piece to do the trick. With Josie and Jessie chipping away at the ozone, the large canvas got a couple coats of chalkboard paint, and Jessie went to town chalking in the menu.

What a statement piece.
Garnished with a large branch, a found nest (complete with a broken baby bird egg), and lots of reindeer and spanish mosses . . . well, crafting don't get much better than this.

Desserts on the credenza were showcased on burlap fabric, 
perched on antiqued metal, glass and actual tree stump stands.

Great dinner music filled the space. 
Conversation and laughter filled in the harmony. 
Wine flowed. 
Food . . . we always, always, always do food like no other.

Greeting everyone on Feast morning was this vignette with a handmade, limb easel holding the sign that Jessie created and that had been hung around the office the week prior. Leaves, acorns, a galvanized bucket of ferns, and a wooden palette finish the look. (See the deer head on the door leading to the dinner venue; more about that below.)

The dessert plates on a burlap runner. Toile goes with anything, I'm just sayin'.

The door to the conference room, which remained closed 
for the 8 hours leading up to The Feast, sported this miniature deer head.

Jessie spritzing the ferns. She totally gets it. It's all in the details.
And nothing is lost on this office of creative, conceptual people.
They appreciate the creative process, both on the giving and receiving end.
We are blessed.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Feast and Wedding Prep

My co-worker and partner in creative crime, Jessie, and I were in the office this past 
Saturday for a day of crafting, constructing and engineering, all for the annual Feast, 
Unboundary's Thanksgiving meal.

Here is what our space looks like BEFORE.
A rather nondescript conference room with a big executive meeting table, 
Herman Miller Aeron chairs, a large wall of paned windows, 
two smaller walls, and another large wall
with a ledge and pushpin panels.
Not the most inspiring space. 

We're creating some vignettes using forest-ee objects; 
a good way to put to use some nests I've found recently in my yard.

There are logs bound in jute (and resulting in something pretty darn cute), 
jars that will be hanging, 
ferns to be potted, 
and branches with gold-tipped pinecones. 

Here are some IG pix that showcase just a bit of what my weekend held.

For the wedding reception that I was hired to help design, I made a trip to Pike Nursery (twist my arm to visit a nursery, will ya?) and bought these rosemary bushes. A swig of rosemary will get tucked into each napkin at the placesettings. (Note the two windows and the pickle jars. The salvage yard near my office is one of those places I pop into once a month to see what's new. I get these old windows for $5 a piece; he gave me both for $5 since one has no glass in it. A craft project waiting to happen. I have a caterer connection who is giving me all the giant pickle jars that they'd wind up recycling. I have 8 added to my stash; perfect for terrariums.)

A friend gave me a ginormous box of wooden produce baskets with removable wire handles. Must be about 50+ in the box. I've had it for years, never knowing when I might need them for a project. Well, this weekend's wedding reception is a rustic theme, and they're using their initials throughout, so I offered up these baskets for the hotel guest bags. I've always wanted to try wood burning, so I bought myself a cheap wood burning kit and used it for this little ol' project.  They came out super sweet.

The hutch is decorated for Christmas with some cheesy tinsel candy canes from the dollar store. They came with holly leaves in the center, and I added a silver poinsettia to each. The chair in the upper right is a new addition to the ken. I have one chair in there already, but when Harleigh comes home and we settle down to drink our coffee and catch up, one chair wasn't cutting it. I got this one on consignment, and what's great about it is that it's super low to the ground. It's a pretty olive green which matches the other chair in the room. Harleigh comes home this Thursday evening for a weekend retreat . . . we're gonna give the new ken a coffee-klatch test drive!

Friday, November 8, 2013

A Feast in the Forest

When August rolls around, the right-side real estate of my brain is occupied with thoughts of The Feast, our Thanksgiving meal here at Unboundary where I work. Every year I do a theme (see all of The Feasts on the right sidebar of my blog under My Event Portfolio). This year, the dynamic of the company has changed. We're much smaller now, and so the typical long table (a string of many tables set up end-to-end, with seating for 30+) taking center stage in the wide open, two-story communal space of the office just wasn't conducive to what is now a more intimate number of people.

I decided to move the setting to what we call The Big Table, a meeting room with a large wooden conference table. It's an enclosed space with a drop ceiling. Not a ton of character, but honestly, that made the challenge all that much more appealing.

The truth of the matter . . . it's going to be magical. The theme "A Feast in the Forest." Here is the amazing poster co-worker Jessie made.

She's my partner in crime this year. She's a combo to be reckoned with, holding degrees in both design and landscape architecture. Needless to say, this year's Feast will have not just decor, but installations. The Feast is coming up November 18. Pix to come.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Tanglewood Farm — The Town of Miniature Farm Animals

A couple of weekends ago I did a family photo shoot at Tanglewood Farm in Canton, GA.
I was prepared for a typical petting zoo, which is, in my experience, an overwhelming number of 
zealous animals up in your face begging for food.
Sooooooooo not the case with Tanglewood Farm.
Unless I missed an option at the check-in station, I didn't see anyone feeding animals.
Instead, there are brushes everywhere to brush the animals. 
The animals are calm and approachable, adoring the affection of little hands 
and brushes massaging their heads and backs. Uber cute.
In other words, there were no crying kids holding onto their parents' necks for 
dear life because of scary, aggressive four-legged beggars.
These are animals you want to put into your pocketbook and take home
to snuggle with.

This is a miniature animal petting zoo. Need I say more.
Miniature African Pygmy Goats.
Miniature Babydoll Sheep.
Miniature Cows.
Miniature Horses.
Miniature Alpacas.
Miniature Manx Cats.
Miniature Potbellied Pigs.
Miniature Donkeys.
Even a Miniature Bison.

There are pony rides, a mini pioneer village, panning for gold and arrowheads.
And the couple who run the place are just about the sweetest two you'd ever want to meet.
The place is clean and well-run, and it's obvious that the animals are loved and taken good care of.

A must-visit. We were there for over 2 hours; so much to see and do.

My pictures here didn't capture all the cuteness, as I was focusing on photographing the family :-)
(And obviously, the cat captured my attention.)

NOTE: After your visit to Tanglewood Farm, stop by the Frosty Frog Creamery & Cafe for lunch.
At the recommendation of the Farm owners, I went, and it was the best quiche and ice cream
I've ever put in my mouth.

And next door to the Cafe is Three Sisters Gifts & Home Decor; bought me a bunch of stocking stuffers, all gift-wrapped, adorably, for free.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Painted Baby Blocks from Ali's Shower

This is the third time I've done a baby shower incorporating a craft. Did blocks for Molly's shower. And small canvases for Amanda's. For Ali's Huck Finn shower, we went the block route, but I limited the palette to only the colors she's using in her nursery (organic neutrals like browns, greys and creams with accents of black and navy). The women did a wonderful job! (And selfishly speaking, having a group of less than 26 women means that there are lots of leftover blocks for me to paint!!)

Since I bought 30 blocks (and 26 got letters of the alphabet), 
I painted the leftover four with colors on all sides except for the one side where 
I put Mommy, Daddy, me and Ellie. Ellie is their dog, and she's white with black spots.

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