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Friday, March 29, 2013


I have tried to be inspired by things other than simply Pinterest lately, but I went back to see some beautiful arrays of Easter table ideas. While I am not hosting Eater, it is always fun to imagine what a little Easter soiree would be like if I did. I always love to see my grandmother's Easter table full of bright eggs, flowers and other Easter odds and ends she blends in seamlessly throughout her tablescape. I'm not sure what she has up her sleeve this year, but I thought this would be a fun Friday post, to see what others have done to embrace the refreshing holiday. As always, please see my Pinterest page to go to the source of all these great bloggers and designers that have a wealth of knowledge. 
Happy Good Friday-this is a dark day for those of us that celebrate the true meaning of Easter as Christians. Thankfully, in two more days, we will be reminded of the renewal Christ gave to us. May you too find renewal in whatever you are seeking. Happy Easter. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Spring Break in the Hills

A college friend of mine studied abroad one year in Salzburg, Austria; this meant an easy opportunity for a European adventure. I boarded a plane during my spring break and headed over for one of the most memorable trips of my life.

With a number of flight delays -that of course started at the Atlanta airport- I arrived late to Germany, had to take a later train, and arrived late to the Salzburg train station where my friend was nervously waiting. The plan was to visit Budapest with a couple of other girls the night of my arrival. So, you guessed it, we had to take a later train to Hungry and meet up with the girls later that night. You can imagine the anxiety we both felt. But all is well that ends well! We had a great dinner and overall visit to Budapest and made it back to Salzburg where I explored with and without my friend (unfortunately it wasn't her spring break) for four days before heading home for Easter. 

The Easter tradition of Salzburg are just as much if not more of a celebration as in the states. Where Americans have plastic eggs in stores Austrians have the prettiest wooden and chocolate eggs sold by street vendors. Everywhere. There are decorations galore. They love their sweets too. Mozart balls are a big deal. Mozart balls are nugget filled milk chocolate balls. Thankfully I did not fall in love with them because they were on every corner. EVERY CORNER. 

Here is a little taste of the Austrian Easter excitement. If you ever have a chance to visit in the spring I highly recommend it. Salzburg is very walkable/bikeable. The city flanks the Salzach River and is surrounded by music-filled hills. Just for fun, the picture of the gazebo...from The Sound of Music. No lie. You can learn a lot about Mozart there too. Oh my gosh...and they love tulips as much as I do. Go visit Salzburg.  


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Fanciful Spring Florals

I am composing this Fanciful blog post as I watch the snow fall on this March day. It was such a refreshing adventure arranging some spring florals on this cold gray day. The wintery weather has not made me crazy yet but the the beauty of these sweet smelling creations reminded me of the sunshine and warmer weather that is to come. I smile and walk a little lighter every time I pass these lovelies.

In light of any possible Easter celebrations we thought a little floral inspiration was needed. Floralspiration if you will.

Ok. so the images you see are what I started and finished with. I used to get special occasion flowers from A Village of Flowers in Nashville. They have the most unique and beautiful array of blooms on a daily basis. I have yet to find a florist in Knoxville that can hold a candle to their creativity. But, we do have a Fresh Market here. My fav splurge zone. Their flowers are surprisingly inexpensive and they always have at least one type of flower that smells just lovely. I also found a great selection at Trader Joe’s today on my lunch break.

Back to my images. I am always wanting the most bang for my buck. I bought some of the most fragrant hyacinths (new spelling word, had to look that up) and the prettiest little tulips. Both of these had the slightest hint of pink. They are so fresh, sweet and clean looking. I spent no more than $18 on these two bundles and was able to spread them out into 3 arrangements. I did that by adding to them with free florals from mine and my neighbor’s yard. I had a few daffodils in my yard along with some flowering arugula. My neighbor had a forsythia bush, lenten rose plant, and blooming rosemary. There was a blooming bradford pear tree behind our house that a took a few sprigs from too. These blooms are white with a hint of pink just like the tulips and hyacinths and the forsythia adds some taller yellows to the arrangement complementing the daffodils. Bradford pear blooms do not smell good, however, the hyacinths and daffodils smell so good you can not smell those stinky little buds.

The larger arrangement you see would be best viewed from one side. I don’t enjoy tall arrangements on tables where people are eating. I hate looking through flowers trying to talk to someone. I think it is best for an entry show piece. The softness of the tulips, hyacinths and daffodils is offset by the strong texture of the more branchey flowers. I love love love texture. In anything visual. My favorite paintings...the impressionistic ones with lots of paint on the canvas. Another tip, layers of flowers gives arrangements more depth and adds interest. Try not to use even numbered flowers of the same type. Arrangements tend to look more natural when you use three roses instead of two for example. I worked for a lady in the food industry once and if she ever caught you garnishing a dish with an even number of anything you would come very close to the end of your days. She was right though...a cook and floral designer, she knew the value in esthetics and the appeal of odd versus even numbers.

So for my smaller table-top arrangements. I also love simple containers filled with lots of the same types of flowers. If you are afraid of “arranging,” this is the route for you. Just buy two or three bundles of your favorite flowers, same or different colors, get some simple containers of similar style but varying height,  and cut your flowers all the same length and pack them in tight. I altered this idea just a bit for my table-top flowers.

I hope this helps cultivate your own ideas when you decide to adorn your home or office. Happy Spring Fanciful people! May the warmer days come soon so our flowers grow!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Bunny-approved Recipes for Easter

Photo via Southern Living and

I consulted the Easter menu guru, my grandmother, for a good Easter recipe to present you. Really, our favorite is this timeless Hummingbird Cake via Southern Living. It's such a happy, springy cake and of course, delicious. It's our family's staple dessert when it comes to our favorite spring holiday. My grandmother says she loves the story in the most recent issue of the magazine about the story behind this cake. 
Add this to your recipe book, feel free to save and print:

Designed by Laurie Montgomery, Fanciful Ink


Sunday, March 24, 2013

DIY Egg Dye

Egg dyeing has long been a tradition the Saturday before Easter in my family. With the itch to create something and always loving Easter egg dyeing, I jumped ahead and decided to create my own dyes from things I had in my home already rather than going out and getting the typical dye in a box. Those eggs always come out the same and this year I wanted brilliant color. My original idea was to color these eggs then dip them in gold paint on one side but honestly, once I pulled them out of the dyes, they were so brilliantly colored I decided to leave them be. Your screen does not lie-they were that bright!

Armed with my friend Whitney and not much of a plan, we set forth to rummage in my kitchen and create some dyes. I had perused some sources on natural egg dyes from vegetables and decided to do two different ones (actually three-the grape juice dye was bad). I chose a magenta red and a golden yellow, aka beets and turmeric. I combined a teaspoon of white vinegar, 2/3 cup of boiling water and then added in the colorant to each cup-6 tablespoons of grated beets to one cup for the red and two teaspoons of ground turmeric in the other. I grated the beets Friday night and used the rest for my dinner. The red color is beautiful but definitely gets everywhere-it looked like a small murder had happened in my kitchen. The beets yielded a regal red-purple color. The egg in the photo above at the 1:00 angle is the first egg out of the beet dye. 
Turmeric is a yellow spice used in a lot of middle eastern or asian dishes and I had some for a recent Moroccan meal. It's an easy find in a supermarket but not exactly a spice staple. The color is beautiful but like most yellow dyes, we did have to leave those in a little longer than most-that is the key-leaving the egg in longer allows for a much deeper color. Since we were chatting while we played, this was easy to do. 

Top left: Grated beets | Top right: Boiling water added to the colorant
Bottom left: Going into to the teal dye | Bottom right: We "boiled" our eggs in muffin tins for a change. 

Top: Dyed with teal icing and food coloring for the blue, turmeric for the yellow
Bottom left: Our first turmeric egg was a bright one! | Bottom right: This egg was immediately that color once it was dipped in and pulled right back out. 

Typical food coloring can be used as egg dye and it even has some formulas for color on the back of the box. I had a couple of green, a yellow and a blue. I also found some icing dye in little bottles (not sure where those came from) labeled "rose" and "teal." I'm sure you can get these types of bottles at Kroger or Wal Mart in the cake decorating areas. The teal was beautiful-we actually did the teal icing coloring as well as the food coloring instructions for teal as well. That helped us achieve a really deep color. We also took eggs that had been dyed in the beets and dipped them a second time in the teal to get the really brilliant purple colored eggs. The pink was such a neon pink it hurt my eyes! We put the icing dye directly in the cup with vinegar and water just like the rest of the colors and it was almost instantly pink. Thus, we created the ombre effect of pinks and purples of varying tones and shades. Whitney even tested a steady hand and patience and created the cute little ombre egg!

Once you have your main colors going, mix and match-dip the turmeric egg in the pink icing dye for a coral color...try the beet dye with the teal dye for the deepest cobalt-purple. Try your hand at the ombre effect, which is easy to do with a little patience! Line your eggs up on a pretty tray or fill up a bowl and let them brighten your day. 


Warning: If you really want to eat the Easter egg, do so not long after boiling and dyeing-you don't want to eat the egg if it hasn't been refrigerated!
Tip: Make sure your muffin tin is spotless because the eggs will somehow pick up the tiniest crumb. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Special Announcement: Introducing Paper Pearl

Alison and I are bringing you a special announcement via video! This is the very first video for Fanciful Ink, as you can tell from our silliness and the low quality. Please pardon the interruption of my husband coming home in the middle of our video-it was too funny so we kept it in there.
This video allows us to explain to you the changes that are coming to the blog have already seen several with the obvious collaboration with Alison of Alison McQuain Photography as well as the new navigation bar and the categories for blog posts. The two biggest changes are coming-a slight name change to Paper Pearl, which will allow us to use this blog as the collaboration of Fanciful Ink and Alison McQuain Photography. We explain why we chose the name in the video. It was a fun process! Next to come will be our "Us" page with our bios, tabs and links to Fanciful Ink and Alison McQuain Photography, then our new logo, followed by a new look later this spring.
I am so excited that the blog is growing so much and with obvious growth and time, changes do happen. Rest assured, this is still the same blog you are used to, we are simply merging together. Fanciful Ink still exists as well as Alison McQuain Photography. We are both still maintaining our businesses that you always have access to and are coming together with Paper Pearl to bring fresh ideas and fun posts.
Thank you so much for reading, supporting and growing with me and now Alison.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Baby, baby

I don’t know about what is going in your world Fanciful people, but in, baby baby. This is not an announcement. I am not growing anything inside my person. But, man oh man, my friends are or just finished growing some! Needless to say it is a very exciting time in life and I wouldn’t trade photographing those sweet bundles for anything! Here are a few pointers if you have a new babe coming into your life.

Each child is different with each photoshoot. There are a few commonalities--most children don’t like to be cold, naked or on hard surfaces. The best way to combat these challenges in a photoshoot when parents want their children to be naked and on a hard surface is to make sure they are very sleepy. A space heater is always helpful in photoshoots like this. A good age for newborn photoshoots is 12 days old or less. Some photographers say 10 days or less. This may seem crazy for new parents bringing their first child home but this is easiest on the photographer as the babies are usually doing nothing but sleeping and eating. If clients desire the closed eye look for most of their images this is the way to go. Some babies will be fussier than others and these shoots may take longer than shoots with a sleepier baby. Don’t be self-conscious about it new moms. Most photographers are aware that these photo shoots can take up to four hours before they are comfortable with the amount a images they have. If they aren’t, shame on them! Hire me. I won’t be in a rush. :-) Shameless plug. I had to.

Another pointer or thought. Don’t stop at newborn photos. Babies change so much in the first year of their life. Make it a point to at least schedule a six month and 12 month photoshoot with your photographer at your newborn session. This way it is done and you won’t look up at eight months after their birth and say, “oh, shoot!!”

List of items to bring to your newborn session:
  • Family heirloom clothing or baby items
  • Special outfits you particularly love
  • Special blankets
  • Any items that sooth the baby (aka a pacie)
  • Diaper covers (even baby boys need a simple white diaper cover for photos)
  • Change of clothes for you and any other family member included in any shots in case you are not happy with your choices (try to stay away from being too matchy matchy...let personalities show)

List of items not to bring:
  • Too many accessories or props (the cleaner the image the better)
  • Any over opinionated family members (you hired your photographer for a reason, let them use their creativity)

Most of my favorite images I have of the babes and families I have photographed are the accidentals. The intent gaze of Miss Blakely below was not something I had planned. Really she was probably wondering what that big blob was in front of her face. Sweet yawns and smiles are byproducts of happenstance. This, well, happens when a photographer is patient and quick to draw. Here are a few images of some sweet babes I have met recently. I am so thankful their parents shared some time with me. For a look at more babes come on over.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Happy Spring!

Spring Threads

Haappyyy Spring! It is officially springtime. For some reason, now we think it's perfectly fine to wear yellow and bright turquoise. We can definitely wear it any time but it's way more fun in the spring, right? With the anticipation of Kate Spade Saturday and some random tulips popping up in my backyard (really?), I am pumped for color. Let your spring wardrobe be inspired by above. LtoR:Sweet flirty floral, Polished chic navy and coral, bold stripe and mint, denim on denim with tribal and coral. SPRING!

Spring Threads by lauriekayhenry featuring tory burch

Monday, March 18, 2013

Tasty Tuesday: Brown Bagging

Hello fanciful people! Welcome to the first installment of Tasty Tuesday! Be excited. Very excited. We hope you find Tasty Tuesday, well, tasty I guess. Today’s post is a little more budget related when thinking about tasty food but on any given week you might find an idea for a snack you can’t resist, a look into a new diet, recipes for an easy dinner or even tasty entertainment ideas--you know we love to entertain. We might even feature one of our favorite restaurants a time or two. Without further adieu, our first Tasty Tuesday!

Usually at about 11:15 hunger pains ensue and you would think I am about to die. Ravenous tendencies begin to emerge and I have to remind myself that in only 45 minutes I can enjoy a “tasty” lunch. Or, what usually happens, I grab a handful of almonds or inhale half of a granola bar.

During any given week I (and I think I can speak for Laurie as well) consume four, but usually, five homemade lunches. Don’t I enjoy getting out of the office or away from my desk? Of course I do! And most times I will at least bring a magazine to get my mind off of work, drive to a park and eat in my car if the weather isn’t cooperating or find a picnic table and soak in some fresh air. Even more than going out for lunch I enjoy what could be up to 1,000 extra dollars a year for brown bagging.

$1,000 people! According to an August 2012 ABC News blog post and an Accounting Principles survey, the average American usually spends up to $46.50 a week on lunch! Think of the all the things you could do with an extra $1,000 a year. The average brown bag lunch is usually never over $5.00 and is most often less than that amount. That cuts your cost for lunch in half as opposed to eating out every day. In half people.

Ok, now you have seen the $’s and are willing to use a little time every day to enjoy a homemade lunch what is on the menu right? You hate peanut butter and jelly and ham sandwiches. Ok. I get that. They aren’t my favorite either. What do I eat? I was so hoping you would ask. I am more than willing to share my lunch secrets.

One of my secrets is that I often buy a number of items that can interchange for multiple different types of lunches. For instance I buy sweet peppers (bonus, high in vitamins) that will be fantastic in salads and on wraps. Or I might buy spinach that can be the star of or added to any salads, soups or sandwiches. Multi-use items allow for more creative lunches that won't leave you craving that deli down the street.

Other options are cooking a little more food on the weekend or the night before and use leftovers to build your lunch. Say you have grilled chicken, steamed veggies and mashed potatoes. Maybe leave the potatoes at home to steer away the afternoon slump and stay pepped up on the protein and veggies. Add your chicken to some salad or throw it in a wrap and have the veggies as a healthy side.This might be an example straight from my house.... Grilling season has begun!

Here is a week of “tasty” lunch ideas if you are needing some inspiration.


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