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Monday, September 30, 2013

A Backyard Birthday

My husband's birthday was this past Saturday and with a busy/sick week last week, I had to pull together some quick decorations for a backyard BBQ. He decided he wanted to have friends and both of our parents over for a fun get together. Without wanting to spend a lot of money, I stopped by the dollar aisle of Target to see what they had to offer a girl on a budget. It turns out, they had some really cute pumpkins and some awesome wrapping paper that worked nicely as quick table runners. My mom provided me with green tablecloths and some awesome flowers from a party she had been to and we had a low-cost birthday in the backyard that was a lot of fun.

Yep, that's a Hulk cake. He's 39 and he loves the Hulk.

Friday, September 27, 2013

TGIF: Really!

It's been one of those weeks for me. Being sick, not having enough down time and planning for a party just really got me for some reason. So it is definitely a TGIF! I hope you have a great weekend relaxing and spending time with people you enjoy. I know I am! Alison and I pinned simply three things each this week-just things that caught our fancy. A cozy fur vest, a long road of fall trees, a handy door from the garage to the pantry, a colorful throw amongst a white oasis, donuts and reminding yourself to just stop and be you for a moment. I think we all need these things, right? 
-Laurie & Alison

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Inside look at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week

Laurie and I had the lovely pleasure of studying alongside Bethany Mullinix during our college career.  Bethany has followed her love for fashion all the way to San Fransisco for graduate school and has been able to use to write for various outlets about this ever-changing world. She was recently able to attend Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York City. We talked Bethany in to sharing a little of her experience and a few sights of this year's Fashion Week. While Spring fashion was all the rage, Bethany also notices a few Fall trends worn by those attending the events. 

-Alison & Laurie

Bethany's Inside Look:

Earlier this month, I had the wonderful opportunity to travel to New York City for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week and cover a slew of shows throughout the week both at the Lincoln Center and down in Chelsea at smaller event spaces – this is becoming a new trend and breathe of fresh air from all the commotion involved with the Mercedes-Benz sponsored shows.

This hubbub of shows, celebrities, wanna-be bloggers and fashion stars decked out in their most Bill Cunningham worthy outfits is what every fashionista dreams of when they picture fashion week. Being on the inside can be all the more glamorous but many fail to understand the hours of hard work and dedication it takes to survive in the vicious sea of sharks known as the fashion industry.

I spent the week in and out of coffee shops, pounding out articles between shows and swapping my comfy flats for 5-inch stilettos lest I be caught dead anywhere near the Lincoln Center without heels on. My nights were sleepless. My mornings were early. The New York heat suffocated my sensitive San Francisco lungs.

But despite all of this, all I can say is that it was TOTALLY worth it!

I hung out with fashion celebrities and top designers:

Left: LeeAnne Marshall (Project Runway Season 6 Winner)
Right: Norman Ambrose
 I perused the inside of the Lincoln Center collecting free swag from vendors, witnessed street photography in action and got up-close and personal with a stunning Mercedes-Benz:

I captured the quietness and anticipation before the opening of the theatre doors:

I witnessed the urgency, nervousness, and excitement backstage as models were transformed into clones of each other and the designers showed off their collections to the press:

Top Right: Academy of Art University designer Nika Tang
Bottom Left: Academy of Art University designer Vicken Derderian 

Of course, fashion week is all about discovering trends for next season. For Spring 2014 expect sheerness to the max (Jason Wu rag & bone), bold colors mixed with soft pastels, South-Pacific reminiscent floral patterns (Michael Kohs, Marc Jacobs), cleaner cut lines and fitted silhouettes, and to the horror of anyone over the age of 16, crop tops are here to stay for yet another season (Calla, Vera Wang). Here are some of my favorites, showcasing a few of these trends that I observed first hand:

1: By LeeAnne Marshall
2: By Ennyluap
3: By Carlos Alberto
4: By LeeAnne Marshall

What trends stood out among the crowd? 
The high-waisted trend definitely stood out especially with skirts - both fitted skirts and circle skirts. I would see these with a skinny belt and either a crop top or a tucked in blouse for a more professional look. This was on the runway and in the street styles. 

What's your favorite Spring color that you found on the runway? 
I LOVE that pastels are making a comeback. Its been all bold jewel tones for a while but time to change it up! Although it is a hard color to pull off my favorite spring color is definitely yellow. 

Yellow AND crop top :)

Can you tell us a little more about Norman Ambrose? 
Norman Ambrose is absolutely one of my favorite designers. His designs are very old Hollywood, beautifully tailored with over the top embellishments. He is actually a graduate of the Academy of Art University where I went to school. Although he was there before my time, I had the chance to profile him a couple years ago when he gave his first solo show at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Spring 2012. Very talented, humble, classy man. You can read more about him here if you'd like, or here 

Your favorite trend you saw worth trying?  
Ties! This trend was even more prominent at London Fashion Week. I used to go to the thrift store in 9th grade and buy the weirdest ugliest ties I could find. Time to start scouring Goodwill again. Ralph Lauren and Marissa Webb's collections portrays this trend really well. 

The most outrageous trend not worth trying? :-) 
I talked about all the sheerness this year but some times its just a little too much. We don't want to see any boobies, haha. Keep it classy ladies. Also overalls. I'm all for most of the '90s trends coming back but not a fan of this one. 

sheerness (jason wu & rag and bone)

crop tops Michael Kohrs - i like this one cause its subtle and wearable

floral (michael kohrsjudith + james)

Bethany is a publicist at SutherlandGold Group is San Francisco where she has had the privilege of working with a wide range of consumer tech and enterprise startups such as Apartment List,, Comcast Ventures, CardSpring, and Solar Universe. However, her true love is fashion.

As a child, Bethany would painstakingly design garments for her Barbies, as her father watched in wonderment, questioning his eight-year-old's taste for micro-mini skirts! Today Bethany channels this love of fashion and design into her writing, taking inspiration for the best and avoiding vapid fashion magazines too easily bent by advertising.
Her main goal as a journalist is to make people understand fashion the way she does - as much more than playing dress-up. Above all, fashion makes her feel good and through her writing she hopes to share this feeling with others.

Bethany currently writes for variety of fashion and lifestyle outlets including Fashion School Daily, ModeConnect and The World According To. She also manages her own online magazine, MOXIE, which she began as part of her M.F.A. Fashion Journalism thesis while at the Academy of Art University. In addition to an MFA, Bethany holds a B.A. in Journalism/PR from Union University in Jackson, Tenn.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Fall Crafts I'm Falling For

Strips of awesome paper, mod podge and pumpkins? Yes, please

I really wish I had a day to just sit down and craft my heart out with no other agenda or obligation other than making pretty things. Life seems to get so jam-packed with things you have to do that it's easy to let those "you" moments go. Then, you wish you had done it after you look around your home and it's end of September and there are no fall decorations up. I had it in my head that I would make decorations the way I wanted them to go with my home but as of right now, it hasn't happened. I've been sick, busy trying to get my Fanciful Ink site up, teaching BarreAmped classes (while sick, yes) and currently planning a birthday party for my hubby. See what I mean? I can't even relax on a sick day! So maybe once my parents come to visit this weekend, we can have a fun crafting time (my mom and I anyway...not the men!). I love any of these simple ideas that would require minimal creating and maximum fun. I like those results! Now I just need to decide which one to do first...

Easy and cheap: Fill vases with colorful bags of beans in layers. Bonus: you can still use the beans later on, you know, when you're not decorating with them. 

I love the personalization of your house number on a pumpkin, but I've never thought of your state! Also, this acorn candle holder would be so easy with a glue gun and a little acorn foraging. 

Little bits of paint on some picked up pine cones grouped together is an easy, pretty garland. 

Now this pumpkin is seriously cool. And how easy is that? Is that a cinnamon stick as a topper? Mmm.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Tasty Tuesday: Fall comfort in a bowl

Fall has arrived my friends! I am so elated! By far my favorite season. And not just because I was born during it. I have to like it if that is the case right?

I don't know about where you are but the first day of Fall in Knoxville was perfect. The sun came out, the air was crisp and clear...I even got a chill while walking the neighborhood Sunday night. Perfect. Have I turned the heat on in my car already? Maybe. If my dumb seat warmers worked would those be turned on too? Of course. Don't judge.

On this fine Fall Tuesday I wanted to share one of my favorite most recent finds: Real Simple's Baked Barley Risotto with Butternut Squash. I mean...I bet we made it at least three times last year. And this recipe makes A TON of "stoup" (as Rachel Ray might call it). This is what I call comfort in a bowl. The nuttiness of the barley and Parmesan cheese is so yummy with the sweet squash. Personally, I prefer this "stoup" over the purred sweeter versions you might typically find for butternut squash. And unlike the sweet version, you need no side or bread to help fill you up. This is a hearty "stoup" that can stand alone. If you are like my husband who thinks you need additional carbs with any soup served--grab a baguette and slice a few pieces, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with some of your extra Parmesan, and toss in the toaster oven for a little crisp.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • small butternut squash (about 11/2 pounds)—peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch pieces (about 3 cups)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (Clos Du Bois is a cheap but good option if you aren't used to cooking with wine)
  • 3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth (I use bullion cubes as seen in photo above)
  • 5 ounces baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan (2 ounces), plus more for serving
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

  1. Heat oven to 400° F. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or large oven-safe saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the squash, onion, ¾ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring often, until the onion begins to soften, 4 to 6 minutes.
  2. Add the barley to the vegetables and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the wine and cook, stirring, until evaporated, about 1 minute. Add the broth and bring to a boil; cover the pot and transfer it to oven. Bake until the barley is tender, 35 to 40 minutes.
  3. Stir in the spinach, Parmesan, and butter. Serve with additional Parmesan.

Enjoy this recipe! Many thanks to Real Simple for never letting me down!

Happy Fall cooking!


Monday, September 23, 2013

Fall Week: Mercury Glass Decor

Antique Mercury Glass Pumpkin from Pottery Barn | Amber Gourd from Pier One | Wreath from Etsy | Mercury Glass Skull from Pottery Barn | Acorn Bowl Filler from Potter Barn | Kingston Wood & Metal Lanterns from Pottery Barn

I woke up this weekend to the crisp Tennessee fall air and was so happy. I love waking up to that chill, there is a freshness in the smell of the air. Fall is my favorite time of year because it is so pleasant and cozy. Nothing is better than a cloudless sky and fall weather in Middle Tennessee. I love to watch the leaves flutter down. I don't have much in the way of fall decor for our new house, so I am looking around for ideas  that will carry me through Thanksgiving. I do want to add in a little bit of Halloween mystery in October (more on that soon!) but I don't want to completely transition decorations when November rolls around and it is time for Thanksgiving. Mercury glass is one of my favorite things to decorate with, so I thought, why not skip the kitschy orange pumpkins and faux leaves and be a little more sophisticated? Here is my pinboard of inspiration. I drooled at Pottery Barn's window this weekend at the mall (the husband was with me and he was pulling me away) so of course now I can't get the beautiful ivory, black and glass items out of my head. Since I already have touches of orange and mercury glass in my living room, this look is ideal for me. 
Happy first week of FALL! 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

TGIF: Thank Goodness I Found...

...Truth and Inspiraton

In life, the grass is always greener. The new is most always better than the old. Why? Human nature, I guess. The American way. Live the dream, you know? 

Our friend Lily, with Hart and Honey, shared how she often experiences an overall feeling of discontent and frustration amongst creative types. A feeling of wanting to be more creative than you are. The feeling of frustration often comes from comparison. Laurie and I have often been victims of these feelings. 

Never being completely satisfied with what you do is, I think, healthy. There is always room for growth and learning. However, I constantly struggle with looking for ways to improve versus beating myself up for not being as awesome as ______. 

Sometimes I find less frustrating forms of inspiration in art of our past. For me, there is something simple and beautiful in old photos. And I do less comparison and more learning. I think I can speak for Laurie too in saying the history of good design is just as important as current, if not more so. 

TGIF. Go enjoy your weekend and find inspiration! And maybe take a break from the Internet (world wide web of comparisons!). What inspires you? We would love to hear!!

-Alison and Laurie

See you at the Belcourt!

Mr. Burnette's premiere happens tonight people. If interstate traffic doesn't let us down the hubs and I will be at the Belcourt and filled with excitement! I hope you can make it too. Be sure to give me a hello! Click here to reserve your free seat!


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Pantry Organization Essentials

After having our closets installed, I want to organize every aspect of our house now. The pantry and kitchen is probably the worst area because it is used so much, but our cabinets are not very deep and allow for awkward storage. The pantry has the wire shelving my husband and I loathe, so if something is in a bag, it slips through those wide wire cracks very easily. Then I groan, and complain and scream inside (sometimes aloud, I must admit). So, my next task is to stock up on containers like those above and organize the pantry until we are able to change the shelving in there. Organized areas make me happy, so I might just like those awful shelves a little bit better...until they fall and cereal from the top shelf goes everywhere. -Laurie

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Tasty Tuesday: The first hint of fall

Here at the Montgomery household, it is fall. I have my fall candles filling the house with spice, I've had my first pumpkin spice latte, broke out my boots already...and now have officially made our first fall(ish) soup-beer cheese soup. It has that kick to introduce soup into the new season. It would be perfect for a blustery afternoon of football watching (imagining if I actually did watch it anyway, which I don't. Not a fan).
My dinner plan was to make a version of Jillian Harris' apple bacon panini. I had not even looked at her ingredients, just the photos, so I imagined what it would be and easily recreated it:

Either toast the bread and assemble the sandwich in the order above, or use a panini press.

For the beer cheese soup, I tried my best to make it a healthy version, but with the words "beer" and "cheese" in the title, I eventually gave up and gave in. Moderation is key and well, this soup will have to be your cheat meal. I felt great from working out, and then pretty much shot that effort. I rarely do that, so this time I'm just going to allow it. Some things are just worth it. I give you permission to cheat on your healthy diet this once. wink.
Here is the recipe:

2 tablespoons evoo to coat the bottom of a soup pot.
1/2 white onion, chopped
2 tablespoons minced garlic
Combine these ingredients in the pot, let it sizzle a little. 

Beer of choice (no clue what I used, someone left it in our refrigerator, hence this recipe)
Pour your desired amount of beer into the soup, I used about 3/4 of a 12 oz. bottle. Bring it to a boil, simmer for 20 minutes.

1/2 can of cream of chicken soup, with water added to it to make 1 cup
1 cup chicken broth with the other 1/2 can of cream of chicken soup.
Using an immersion blender (or regular blender), blend these two together and add to the soup mixture. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.

1 cup flour
2 cups 2% milk, divided
Whisk 1 cup of milk and flour together, add to soup. Follow with the remaining cup of milk. Let it cook for about ten minutes.

5 oz. sharp cheddar cheese
Add in the shredded cheese and stir until blended. Season generously with pepper and a little salt, mixing in. Let the soup cook for about 5-10 minutes longer on low heat and then serve.

You can garnish with chives, bacon bits or any other seasoning of your choice. 


Friday, September 13, 2013

TGIF: Thank Goodness I Found...Copper+Black

Some color combinations strike you and you can't get them out of your head, at least for me as a designer anyway. I remember last year I was at Starbucks and a copper and black travel mug caught my eye. It was such an unexpected combination and was so beautiful-feminine and masculine at once and a little daring. As the leaves slowly start to hint at turning this time of year, I crave metallics and warmth of darker colors. Perhaps I am color-hybernating? I think that is okay to do. So when Alison asked if I  had an idea of what to start pinning to our TGIF board, my thoughts went to that beautiful color combo that hints at the beginning of fall. 
Short nonfat, no whip pumpkin spice latte, anyone? -Laurie & Alison
Follow our Pinterest page and find these original pins there. Happy Friday. TGIF! 


That backsplash.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Marshall Burnette's Premiere: Must see at the Belcourt

If you all remember my previous First Friday post about Mr. Marshall Burnette, you remember me talking about a new film he was working on and a campaign to fund the release. Well, the release is happening and the premiere screening is scheduled!

One week from today Devil's Damned to Try will premiere at the Belcourt Theater in Nashville at 7:30pm on the 19th (doors open at 7pm). Even better, admission is free! Be sure to click on the Belcourt link above to reserve your seat though!

Go support local local filmmakers, actors and crew! Be sure to tell them PaperPearl sent you!

A huge congratulations to Marshall and his fantastic crew!


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Best Gals

I have debated on posting this, but I just love these cards and these gals so much, that I wanted to share with you how I asked my bridesmaids to in fact, be my bridesmaids. A lot of people nowadays are opting to "pop the question" to their nearest and dearest ladies. And why not? They are the ones who have stood by your side probably a lot longer than your man has. I wanted each girl to have their own special card. 
I kept coming across cards on Pinterest that had cute poems but none of them really struck my fancy. They were either too cheesy or just didn't fit for me. So, for the first time in my life, I tried my hand at poetry. I'm not even sure how I feel about poetry that rhymes (cheesy, not cheesy? I still have not decided), but nonetheless, I wanted the cards to be as personal to our friendship as possible. 
I chose photos of Kendra, Holly and Julie on their wedding days, then favorite photos of Whitney, Alison and Audrey. I drew them in Adobe Illustrator, altered a favorite drawing of a flower I had already done and then carefully laid out each one. 
Alison was away in the Caribbean last summer so I had to unceremoniously send her the card via email. Poor Alison, basking in the sun all summer, right? I sent a box full of balloons stuffed with random things that reminded me of both Kendra and Julie since they both lived in Memphis. Holly was visiting around the same time, so I decorated my guest room with her card, balloons and her knick-knacks as well. Since Whitney lives two miles from me, I snuck into her house and did the same thing. I unearthed several things from our youth and tied balloons to it like I did for Holly. Each person had three things that reminded me of them...Julie had a little turtle because we had an awesome experience with sea turtles on a girls trip, Holly had a cupcake because we would always indulge in cupcakes when we lived together, Kendra had some Chi Omega things because she was my sorority little sister, Whitney had a hilarious amulet from a 90's game we always played (Tales of the Crystals, anyone?). For my flower girl, I sent a little bouquet of flowers to her and had my mom give her the card. She sent me back a cute video saying yes! Alison got the short end of the stick...but once again, she was in the Caribbean (and was soon leaving so no sense in sending her things) besides, she now gets to be a part of this blog (wink).
So, I would encourage all you brides out there to take a cue from all the Pinterest ideas, but most definitely put your own spin on things. Make these special moments more personal. If you need assistance with that, I am here to help! Contact me at or leave a comment below! I am working on something similar to this style with family portraits for stationary, so if you are interested in that as well, please let me know! I love to customize! -Laurie

 PS-Kendra is now expecting a baby girl! Congrats, Kendra & Trey!


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