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Monday, March 31, 2014

April Desktop Calendar Download

As the first quarter of the year passes us by after today and we have a bright new season upon us, I want to encourage each of you to be intentional about being you, being happy and being your best self. Alison and I have collaborated to bring you a beautifully simple and springy desktop calendar. Alison took the photo of these peaceful pink blooms and I created the calendar for it. We would love for these pretty blossoms to grace your computer desktop. Think of us when you plan our your month's activities! Download here

I have to be real with you for a moment and say that it has been an emotional past month for me...not because of any one thing in particular that happened, but because my "busyness" finally got to me. I was lying to myself and thinking that being busy meant being successful, when it means completely the opposite. I was never giving 100% to any one thing, just smaller percentages to many things and was spreading myself too thin. I am trying to find more of a balance in my life while still maintaing the things I love. My goal for myself this month, beginning April 1 is to be more knowledgeable and more committed to health-physically, mentally and emotionally. I want to spend time taking care of myself and relaxing, finding more balance in life and appreciating the small moments that make me happy. So, beginning tomorrow, Alison and I both want to invite you and challenge you to join us in the #100happydays challenge. Take a photo a day for 100 days of what makes you happy, share socially and control the privacy of it...simple as that!

I, probably like you, thought "ugh no I can't add another thing to my plate"...but then I realized that by following this challenge I can have a peaceful moment in my life when I get stressed. I'm also trying to get back to a daily devotional and I think these two things will help me to find an inner peace that I seek. If you want to start a fresh season as well, join us on Instagram with your #100happydays hashtag and add in our exclusive Paper Pearl hashtag so we can find your pics!  Our hashtag (on any social platform you choose to use) will be #100happypearls. We want to see what makes you happy.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Thank Goodness I Found: Coral

Coral is such a refreshing color as Winter ends and Spring begins. I think Laurie is head over heels for this color and I have to say that I own a few items of clothing in this happy color.

I hope our Pinterest finds brighten your Friday and nudge you into a fantastic weekend! Be sure to find our TGIF board on Pinterest to learn more about what we found!

Happy Friday Ya'll!
-Alison & Laurie

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Getting Real About Graphic Design

I have grown up watching computers evolve. I didn’t know it, but I was also watching design evolve, especially within my own expertise. I remember coming home one day to a surprise, someone covering my eyes when I walked into my room. Before seeing anything, I smelled something new. I’m not sure how to describe the smell, it was just new and it smelled wonderful and had a steady hum. My grandparents had gotten me a computer. It was glorious. I drew a cat with the mouse in a very unsteady way and thus began my love of graphic design. I highly doubt I knew it at the time. I imagined creating things on the computer for people as a business, played at it, created my own things. I tried other mediums of art in high school-mostly painting, a little drawing although I learned my drawing skills were not that great. My beloved high school art teacher suggested graphic design after I made a piece for a book cover. I’m not even sure how I landed on the decision to study graphic design as an art major, but I am sure he had a lot to do with it. 
I’m not going to lie, learning the rules of design was not easy. Since art itself is such a subjective discipline, criticism was sometimes hard to take from those with obviously different aesthetics than my own. I’m pretty sure this was true for every art major at some point as a student. I was told that we were not artists yet, we were students of a craft and that was very true. I feel like now I am a designer. I would never say artist because I think that is a completely different level of discipline and medium, at least for a true artist. 
What I did learn then and still stick by now, is that I get very frustrated when someone who has not gone through the refining fire of learning design, defending your own design and honing your skills thinks that they know how to do it. I understand if you have a good eye for color, line, texture, dimension, layout, etc., but when you try to do it yourself without being able to defend it to someone with correct terms, I cannot take you seriously. So, if you have a project-even if it is something simple like your own letterhead for a resume please consider hiring a designer. Work with them. They know a wealth of information that you don’t. Sure, you can get your twelve-year-old niece to whip up something in Microsoft Word for you but that is not how it’s done. This may seem harsh, but from someone who sees a lot of bad design out there, don’t add to the mess. Design students will gladly design stuff for you to plump up their portfolios. I’m sure they would do it for very cheap if not for free. Use those people! They know what they are doing, I promise. If you are looking for stationary or invitations, research places like that supports the designer. Those designers have worked hard to get to that site so that you can buy their product. Vistaprint, Walgreens or Target can certainly provide you with beautiful products…but I want to encourage you to support a designer because those people are the backbone of having a dream and working to achieve it.
Ok, off my soap box now. I know this is a long post, but it’s clearly dear to my heart. If you have made it this far, thank you for reading. I’m not trying to sell you my services with this post, I’m trying to help you realize some very basic things if you feel like you have what it takes to do some designs yourself. 

Do not use Microsoft word. Word is a word processing program, not a design program. I know they have Word art and allow you to make your heading look like a My Little Pony threw up graffiti and that you can drop a photo in there and call it a day. Just don’t do it. Type your document there and download a free trial of Adobe Illustrator or InDesign. Photoshop is an entirely different animal that is best not to be tackled without at least an introductory class of some sort and lots of practice. The entire Adobe Creative Suite is like that, but Photoshop especially is the monster. A really amazing monster.

Never ever under any circumstances unless your life is in danger use the following fonts: Brush Script, Papyrus, Comic Sans. Or really anything that already came with your program. There are wonderful free font sites out there. I use all the time to find a multitude of beautifully created fonts. 

Once you find a font site to use, use my typography rule: Script+Serif=Classy & Elegant
Handwritten+Sans Serif=Modern & Relaxed
I typically use the first “equation” for my wedding invitations, the second for my posts on here. Script fonts are cursive-esque fonts that look like calligraphy; Serif fonts are those with a projection that finishes off a stroke in a typeface, like Times New Roman; Handwritten are simply fonts that look handwritten; Sans Serif means “without serif” and is a flatter typeface like Ariel. Typically two fonts break up design monotony and add some visual balance. Don’t go over four or you look like you have had way too much coffee and sugar and haven’t brushed your hair in days. 

Simplify. Don’t throw a bunch of different things at one piece. Pick a focus and “decorate” around it. If you use multiple images for say, a collage of engagement pictures, pick a close up, a detail (even closer close up), a far-off shot. Think of how they display together. 

Know CMYK vs. RGB. Has your TV ever lost its signal and shows you that jumbled moving mass of fuzzy black and white dots? A general annoying sound usually accompanies it. If you have ever looked closely at that, you can see red, green and blue speckled in there as well. Screens use RGB colors (RedGreenBlue), so if you are designing for a blog, you need to make sure you are set on RGB so it displays correctly. If you are creating something to be printed, CMYK is your color set. C=Cyan, M=Magenta, Y=Yellow, K=Process Black. If you have ever changed out your printer’s color cartridge, you probably know that those are the inks inside. RGB=screen, CMYK=print.

A web designer is different from a graphic designer. Don’t call me a web designer. That implies I know HTML code and I don’t. It’s another language, another beast I have tried to conquer but cannot wrap my mind around. I feel like a web designer gets the best of both sides of the brain-the analytical, linear left side and the creative right side. Only my right side works…I don’t do math as a result. A web designer most likely knows how to design something and then make it function as a website. I can make something look good, but I can’t make it function. Some people are both and that is awesome. I respect them a ton.

If you ever need design for anything, I am always open to new projects! Contact me at

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


Maybe it has everything to do with Spring Break being in full swing (not for me), but I am feeling some serious wanderlust this time of year. I have always loved to travel and thoroughly enjoyed my travel experiences during college. It may have a lot to do with my eyes being opened to the beauty of what lies beyond our country’s borders and even Tennessee’s…whatever it is that pulls me to explore different cultures tends to roar this time of year. 
I wish I could go, but until then I will dream. Two dreams of exploring places have come true for me in the past: I once wrote a bucket list of places I wanted to see. I’m not sure where that list ended up, but Morocco was one of them, Italy another. I visited both places and took so much away from those trips. 

I challenged Alison to pick five places she wants to visit as well. Come, travel the world with us even if it is only in our minds...

Kenya Safari: It would be amazing to be up close and personal to wild animals and to be surrounded by such natural beauty. (photo from Magical Kenya)

Williamsburg, VA: I think this would be beautiful in the fall to see  our country’s origination (photo from Visit Williamsburg).

Phuket, Thailand: Exotic foliage, Thai cuisine, culture and a beach…all I need. Well, maybe running water too. I’m sure Phuket has that. (photo by Most Beautiful Places in the World)

Great Britain: I would love to rent a car and visit England, Ireland & Scotland. Fish & chips, Awesome accents, Harry Potter, William & Kate. (photo by

Chefchaouen, Morocco: This blue city has always intrigued me. The serenity and color here make it seem so refreshing. I love that the color was inspired by prayer shawls. (photo by Lonely Planet)


Chicago: I want to see what all the fuss is about and find out what this windy city has to offer.  (photo by

Holland in the Spring: I want to see tulips for miles and walk down canals. I want to learn about dutch food and eat their cheese. (photo by

San Diego: I have wanted to visit this city for quite some time. I hear it is a fantastic place to be. (photo from tourism site)

Sites of Highway 101 and the Parks around it: From L.A. to Washington state. I want to travel this highway and enjoy the natural beauty along the way. (photo by Phil Schermeister)

Greece: I want to wear cool linen, snack on olives and cheese, see the city meet the waves, enjoy the history ancient civilizations. (photo from tourism site)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Tasty Tuesday: Cheddar Chive Scones

Two weekends ago I had the pleasure of co-hosting a family bridal shower with my mother-in-law for my soon to be cousin-in-law. We decided to plate our late afternoon snacks and one of the snacks we had were cheddar chive scones. I have never made scones before and I had assumed for so long that they were difficult. Scones ARE NOT hard to make! I am afraid to say that it might be a bad discovery for me. My carb intake may increase significantly.  

I used a Martha Stewart recipe and I found a video of her making a different scone recipe to get a better idea of what I was getting myself into. I ended up making two batches and I used Martha's freeze ahead method and cut the scones after letting them thaw on the counter for about 2 hours. Remember that if you do the same that your cooking time will increase a bit as the dough is cold (also, I did not do the egg wash). 

Please go make some scones and have a spot of tea with them for me. 

Martha's Cheddar Chive Scones
4 ounces extra-sharp yellow cheddar cheese, grated
6 tablespoons minced fresh chives
2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
3 large eggs, beaten lightly, plus 1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water for egg wash
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, roughly chopped
  1. Step 1

    Heat oven to 400 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper, and set aside. Place the cheddar cheese, chives, and 1 tablespoon flour in a small bowl, and toss to combine; set mixture aside. In a small bowl, combine the 3 lightly beaten eggs and the cream, and set aside.
  2. Step 2

    Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine remaining 2 cups flour, baking powder, paprika, and salt. Add butter; mix on low speed until butter is in pea-size pieces, 1 to 2 minutes. Add egg-and cream mixture; mix on low speed until just blended. Add cheese mixture; mix until just combined.
  3. Step 3

    Transfer dough to a well-floured surface, and pat into a 9-inch circle. Using a sharp knife dipped in flour, cut circle into 12 wedges. Transfer wedges to prepared baking sheet; brush tops with egg wash. Place in oven; bake, rotating baking sheet halfway through cooking, until outside is crusty and inside is cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.


Monday, March 24, 2014

Musical Monday: Shara Worden

Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond) is just lovely. I had the pleasure of hearing her preform this past summer in a piece composed by David Lang at the Bang on a Can music festival. In looking for videos to share with you all I learned that she is also a native Arkansan like myself. Fun fact.

Be sure to take the time to learn about Shara and some of her collaborations with other artists. I especially love how she seems to encompass so many different art-forms into her pieces and videos. And the modern twist she has on the orchestral arrangements in her work. Her work is just so different than most anything else I have heard. Be sure to check out Y-Music as well (they partner with Shara on a lot of things). She is quite inspiring.

This is the piece we were able to hear at Ban on a Can

4.08.14 Walt Disney Concert Hall Los Angeles, CA
4.11.14 The Pool South Bend, IN
4.12.14 Van Noord Arena Grand Rapids, MI
4.13.14 Butler Arts Fest Indianapolis, IN
4.26.14 Trinosophes Detroit, MI


Friday, March 21, 2014

TGIF: Thank Goodness I Found Organization Inspiration

We are wrapping up our spring cleaning week with some inspiration for organization! Our TGIF posts are always simply to bring you Pinterest inspirations. By the end of the week, we are all a little run down and sometimes it's nice to just disconnect and browse Pinterest. We invite and encourage you to follow us and pin alongside us. Each week Alison and I pick a theme and pin with that theme in mind. You can always find these images on our TGIF board and those images link back to the original source-we take no credit for the images, just curate them into what you see here. 
Happy Spring, Happy Friday and Happy Pinning!

-Laurie & Alison

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Spring Cleaning: Closet

A change of season for me always brings a need to purge, organize and refresh. One of the most needed places is usually my closet. I keep pieces of clothing that I think I will wear with this or that and then forget about the outfit in my head and never wear it. So it hangs there another year and I am faced with the decision to get rid of it or hang on to it. Even though I have the space for it, I don't want to just have a ton of clothes hanging in there when I don't use them or wear them. I would much rather someone else get it who would wear it. Seasonally cleaning out your closet is great to do so that you are thankful for what you have, are reminded to use it and really determine to streamline this everyday aspect of life. Here are some questions to ask yourself when you are going through your closet to see if you should keep or toss your togs:

Does it fit? Will it fit if I lost or gained five pounds?Have I worn it in the past year?
Can I reinvent this? If so will I wear it within the next month?
Is its style timeless? Does it still reflect my taste in clothing?
Does it need alterations or repairs? Will I take time to make those changes within the next two weeks?
Do I feel good in this?
Would I buy this all over again?

If you make a pile of clothes you no longer want, consider a few options of getting rid of them:

1) Donate to a worthy cause. There is always Goodwill or the Salvation Army that will take used items, but if you want to know that your stuff is going somewhere meaningful, look for a local women’s shelter and see if they will take gently used items. For women in the work force, you can try Dress for Success to help women feel confident going to job interviews. Soles4Souls takes used shoes as well and gives to those in need. Their mission is beautiful. I love giving back to organizations like these. Search your area for opportunities.
2) Any old clothes with holes in them or towels that you would throw away can be used for bedding for an animal. Contact a local shelter  and see if they welcome items like that rather than filling up a landfill somewhere.
3) Encourage girlfriends to spend their Saturday going through and reorganizing their closets, then host a girls night where you can all swap. Even if you are not all similar in size, try to purge accessories like scarves and jewelry you no longer wear and focus on that. That way, your girlfriends won’t be comparing their body type to someone else. It would be fun to make a night out of it with girly movies, drinks and snacks. Fun and free!

-LaurieFashion illustrations by Brittany Fuson Paper. I pulled some thumbnails from her site because I wanted them small and in a row, each one of these sketches is an individual print for sale. Her work is so adorably chic, you MUST check it out!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Cleaning Naturally

As we continue our week by cleanly welcoming Spring I bring to you a new blog that you must check out. Living Well Spending Less is especially great for a family but just as great for the single and married sans kids of us out there. I am sharing a fantastic printable with you today thanks to Ruth. 

Back to cleanly welcoming Spring! I can't get over how happy I am that I found this printable. Not only does she give you recipes but she also includes a handy shopping list! Laurie and I are all about living cleaner lives. We tend to focus on eating clean a lot but cleaning clean is also highly important. Just because we eat fewer chemicals doesn't mean we can use more when we clean our home. 

I have done the make your own laundry detergent before but this recipe is made in a completely different way and I WILL be trying it. The ivory soap in the one I make is really hard and doesn't dissolve in the wash and then my clothes have little pieces of soap melted on them thanks to our dryer that reaches scorching temperatures (someone, anyone, send me a new dryer -- I can't complain, ours is free). Also super excited to use the glass and surface cleaner recipe. And the toilet bowl sounds kind of fun. I'm not going to lie. 

Keep in mind, spring cleaners, as you finish off your store-bought chemical cleaners (like I will as well) hold on to your spray bottles. Rinse them out with a mixture of hot water and vinegar to clean them and then add your "thrifty" cleaners. From what I can tell vinegar cleans everything. 

Happy greener cleaning!


P.S. Real Simple has a ton of great tips too!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

An Easy Cleaning Guide

We love all seasons here at Paper Pearl. While we are a little sad to see winter go, I think we are all very ready for spring and the freshness it brings. A new season also brings a new layer of dirt and dust to do away with.  I don't think you should just stick to "spring" cleaning, so Alison and I have put our heads together to bring you a to-do cleaning list that will hopefully make your cleaning schedule easy to maintain throughout the year. 

I just got all my spring cleaning done this past Saturday. I can proudly say I checked off many of these items. Pin, right click and save, bookmark for later, print or do whatever you want to do to keep this list! 

Turn on some happy music, put your hair in a messy ponytail and get down and dirty! Happy spring cleaning! 

PS-Spring is two days away!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Happy St. Patrick's Day! May you have luck in all you do today. 
This week we will be embracing spring, starting with the beauty of a bright green Irish clover. We will be bringing you spring cleaning tips all week long. Breathe in the last few breaths of winter, a new season is upon us. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

TGIF: Thank Goodness I Found Lucky Green!

I think St. Patrick's Day comes right at the perfect time, to give us a fresh breath of spring in the brightest green. I hope to some day visit Ireland and experience the beautiful emerald countryside, but until then, I will relish in the enlivening color St. Patrick's Day is famous for. 
"May the road rise to meet you, May the wind always be at your back, May the sun shine warm upon your face, May the rains fall softly upon your fields." Irish blessing. 
Happy Weekend,
-Alison & Laurie

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Saturday Dreaming: Nashville

It is nice to be a tourist in your own city sometimes and see the sights that people come to Nashville for. I love Nashville and all it has to offer. However, sometimes I just tend to get overwhelmed with the amount of tourists at “touristy” Nashville locations. You can find plenty of guides to the city on various websites and learn where to go, what to eat, what to do, what to see and I doubt you will be disappointed with any of it. I don’t recommend going downtown on the weekends unless you truly want the crowded honky-tonk experience. I’m not a huge fan of country music, so some things don’t excite me as much as true country fans. I do love the beautiful venue of the Ryman, classy cowboy boots and the southern hospitality that leaks out of Nashville though.

If I were to spend my perfect Saturday here, it would be packing in a lot of favorite things (which were hard to narrow down) with equal amounts of relaxation. Since Saturdays with no obligations are rare lately, I relish these thoughts of waking up after a restful night’s sleep! I would start out with a workout at a Barre Amped studio. There are several locations around the Nashville area and each instructor is unique to the method. If you come to the Mt. Juliet location you can take a class from me! The workout is full body and an hour long, so it’s awesome to get out of the way in the morning and feel great for the rest of your day. It would also make me feel better about going to Loveless Cafe and indulging in their amazing breakfast. It’s famous for a reason: biscuits. I know it’s a typical touristy Nashville spot but it it well worth the wait and the crowd. Grab brunch with girlfriends and indulge.
Saturdays are wonderful when you get to relax, and one of the best relaxing places is Serenity Salt Cave  The benefits of Himalayan sea salt are endless, and this experience is so cool. You wear comfy clothes and sit in fancy lounge chairs in a dark room that looks like a spacious cave. The walls are made of the sea salt, the floor is filled with salt pebbles and the air is therapeutic but you don’t really know it until you get out. The entire space is so utterly relaxing, most people end up taking a nap. The salt in the cave helps you breathe better and cleanses you inside and out. You leave feeling refreshed and like you have had a massage.

Lazy Saturday afternoons are so fun. I would stop at the Nolensville Feed Mill for some Amish goodies…amazing breads, pimiento cheese, bakery items, you name it…and head on to Arrington Vineyards for lounging in the sunshine (ideally it would be a sunny 75 degree day of course) and hanging out with a group of friends underneath the big shade tree-the one with the swing on it. The view of rolling hills are so pretty out there. Arrington Vineyards is a special spot because David and I got engaged there!

My day would be complete with a dinner at one of my favorite places, which is actually in downtown Franklin, just south of Nashville. Red Pony is usually my go-to special occasion restaurant. They never fail to create delicious everything. The atmosphere and decor are very cool too. 
Ideal Saturdays like this rarely come along anymore, but I at least try to fit in something I love. I am hoping to find more balance in my life and be able to meet up with girlfriends for brunch, go relax guilt-free and enjoy my time in my city. 

Photos are from their respective sites. 
Nashville photo found here.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Saturday Dreaming: Knoxville

Lately as my Sundays begin to wind down and the thought of starting another week is in the forefront of my mind I start dreaming of the next Saturday. Do we have plans already? If we don't, I wonder what the weather will be like? What should we do? Do I have any photography or blog stuff I need to work on over the weekend? All of these questions start floating around a week from the next possible day I can actualize them.

Well, my weekend is over and I'm looking forward to the next one! And even more to the one after next when commitments aren't present. I thought you all might enjoy hearing what my dreamy Knoxville Saturday looks like should you ever find yourself here without an agenda. 

I am active outdoors so I don't feel bad about consuming all you is so wonderful and the beauty of East TN is just as good!
8am: Throw the stocked picnic basket backpack (ours is awesome) in the car and head to Just Ripe for a breakfast biscuit or maybe a smoothie as we head toward Townsend, TN to enter the Smoky National Forest for a day hike. You can't find a bad trail I don't think but Ramsey Cascade is a beautiful hike. Warning: It is a bit of a doosey. I shared about it here. But worth it for sure. And if you are looking for something in town or a little less of a commitment (which I often am) try Ijams Nature Center. It is quite lovely. Some of the trails include scenic overlooks of the Tennessee River. So lovely. Oh! And the Knoxville Botanical Garden is a perfect location for a stroll and picnic!
1pm: Making it back to Knoxville by 1pm all depends on the type of trail you take...But, should this be in the warm weather months we would do our best to make it back to Market Square in time for the farmers market and a scrumptious treat from one of the awesome food trucks in town. Sweet and Savory is always a good choice. I would probably have to get their apricot tea. I would probably stop in for some home dreaming at Bliss on Market Square. I discovered Rala recently as well; great find! After perusing and produce buying its time for a shower; we've got big plans later!
6pm: Head to fancier end of Gay Street for some of my favorite food at Knox Mason. I CANNOT get enough of this place. Starting at the bar with a cocktail and maybe charcuterie is never a bad option as you wait on your table in this cozy little spot. I could sit there all night. It reminds me of some of my favorite little spots in NYC and it really is an escape in Knoxville for me. I have yet to find something I didn't like there and learning something new about food is a given.
8pm-Bedtime: Just over a block or two is another restaurant/venue called Boyd's Jig and Reel. While the food is quite good and the scotch menu, or should I say book, is extensive--I often go for the music. Would this have been a Friday night you could have found me in The Underground enjoying some Frog and Toad Dixie Quartet.
Much past 10pm and I'm boring. Especially after a morning of hiking! I am discovering fun things every season here in Knoxville. This place is growing on me for sure. I had my doubts. Huge doubts. 


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Tasty Tuesday: Carrot-Raisin Salad

After a week of working out less and indulging in a few too many fries (I really love them), I spent Sunday making a few healthy dishes for the week. After Alison's challenge last week to actually use our cook books, I wanted to dive back into my Tone It Up nutrition plan recipes and feel lighter. The great thing about their nutrition plan is that you can indulge and not feel bad about it! I feel like I am indulging in their Carrot Salad. This is so easy to make and has that subtle sweet taste that is perfect for lunch alongside something like chicken salad. With spring just around the corner, this carrot salad is seasonal and fresh...bunny approved!

2 cups grated carrots
1/2 cup raisins
2 Tbs. chopped pecans
1 Tbs. honey
1 Tbs. Greek yogurt
1 juiced lemon

Mix carrots, raisins and pecans together. Toss with honey, then add in yogurt and lemon. Mix together until well coated. Enjoy!

Friday, March 7, 2014

First Friday: The Light Master

Sign by Sideshow Sign Co.

I met the man behind Southern Lights Electric years ago when I was younger and dumber. When I thought all my dreams would come true. When I thought, "there is still a chance I might get a Buddytown invite!" When my professor called me Penny Lane due to my high tolerance for music consumption and, well, groupie tendencies. Now, now I tell my husband he is the only dream I ever wanted--he believes me most of the time.  I am still waiting on that stupid invite. NPR helps me find new music these days (I mean...who admits that?!). And I'm lucky if I make it to a show once a month....Nostalgia.

Oh yes, sorry, Mr. Southern Lights! During my Penny Lane days I met Adam Gatchel. Adam was in a band and was friends with some of my good friends (who were, of course, in a band). We hung out here and there. Oh the good 'ole days.

Adam will remember his band days forever but, he has found a new gig. Southern Lights has expanded in the last few years and has brought him and his wife, Jamie, to the place of owning/operating a quite successful small business. As you will read later, Jamie runs the show; but Adam created the business in his home years ago and now requires a larger space for production. His "office" is in a warehouse connected to Fort Houston on Houston Street near downtown Nashville. His space is interwoven with many other creatives and small business owners. One being Sideshow Sign Co. that created his fantastic sign seen above. I felt more creative just wandering through their space. 

In addition to requiring more space he often needs more hands on deck as well...that is where his friends come in to help from time to time. While owning your own business can be stressful, what a better way to keep it at bay than by having your friends around from time to time? Also cool about Southern Lights, most of their creations are created using products made in the US of A. I like that. And the materials he uses are not shy of attention to detail. Even the wiring he uses is aesthetically pleasing. It's one of my favorite parts of his desk lamp you can see below. And I love the aged branding plate on the base of the lamp (my words not Adams, I'm sure there is an official term for that).

I ramble. Without further adieu, Southern Lights Electric and their mood-inducing work you are sure to have seen if you have been in Nashville in the last few years (or maybe Asheville, Brooklyn, Chicago, or Australia to name a few).


Adam's work space 

PP: Is there are certain period in time that you are inspired by? Your work is quite modern yet very old school with the Edison bulbs you pieces feature.
AG: When we first started out I was drawn towards industrial lighting from the turn of the century because it was so functional and simple. But more recently we have been inspired by more modern and Mid-Century modern pieces.

Pinewood Social Nashville, TN

Rhubard Asheville, NC Credit: ReThinkDesign
Rolf and Daughters Nashville, TN

PP:Where does your design inspiration come from when you are working on a particular space?
AG:We always ask the client for their ideas first to see where their vision is going and then we can mold and refine the designs from there. Other construction materials play into the design certainly, but agreeing on an overall feel and atmosphere for the space is the biggest challenge.

PP: I know you said when working with clients you may alter blueprints of a space to better fit your that the first time you see the design for the space you are working on? When you alter the blueprints is it for space or electricity...what is being changed?
AG: The ideal situation is to be able to walk into a space and start designing but sometimes that’s not an option so we start with blueprints. We basically look at the blueprints and start to lay out the RCP (reflected ceiling plan) as far as lighting is concerned. In a commercial setting we draw out where every fixture will go and how we will “separate” the room if necessary. We start with general lighting and then accent and feature lighting. Getting the proper layout is the most important part because we could build a beautiful custom wall sconce but if it is in the wrong place it would be worthless.

Barista Parlor Nashville, TN Credit Cameron Powell Studio

PP: What is your biggest challenge when working on a commercial project?
AG: There are many challenges on commercial projects but what always worries me the most is coming up with a cohesive and comprehensive lighting package. We want a customer to walk into a space and feel a certain way, we want it to have a vibe. You could have a beautifully designed restaurant but with bad lighting the mood is killed.

PP: Do you do much residential work right now? Would you like to do more or less?
AG: I have been doing some consultation recently on residential projects but we don’t build a lot of custom pieces for them. I think I prefer working on commercial projects because I can go and enjoy them more.

PP: Do you have pre-made pieces that can be purchased? 
AG: We do have a collection of designs that we adapted from the commercial side for use in residential spaces as well as some desk lamps and such. Those pieces can be customized as well for your home. We only sell our products online right now but maybe in the future we would offer them in retail stores. Someday I would like to have a showroom/retail space.

PP: What is Jamie's role in the business?
AG: Jamie pretty much runs the whole show. She keeps everything together and moving forward. She handles the entire business side of things as well as searching out new opportunities and clients. She is a lot nicer than me so she handles customer service as well

PP: How does working with your wife and friends change the way your work or run your business?
AG: Having Jamie and my friends as a part of this is invaluable because I am surrounded by people who really care about the business and want it to succeed. It’s a very supportive environment where everyone’s opinion matters. These are the people I trust the most so I am very lucky to have them involved.

PP: Do you and Jamie find it difficult to separate work and home life?
AG: It is hard sometimes to separate home and work life, especially when the business is young. I feel like I am working 24 hours a day. But ever since we moved out of the garage and into a large shop it has gotten better. I think the key is having a schedule and sticking to it as often as possible.

PP: What are you most excited about in 2014 for Southern Lights?
AG: Right now I am pretty excited about some new designs and redoing the website. I want to release some new products and see how they do. We are also in the very early stages of a line of home goods that I think could be a really fun project. Just creating new things.

PP: Paper or Pearl?
AG: Paper

Credit Cameron Powell Studio

Here is a little more about Southern Lights presented by a super cool venture called Small Batch.
Small Batch Presents: Foreign Fields // Southern Lights Electric from Small Batch Presents on Vimeo.

Adam Gatchel is a craftsman and an artist. He was raised in Chicago and moved to Nashville, Tennessee in 2002. Adam is inspired by turn of the century lighting and the beauty of raw materials. 
"I love creating useful things with my hands. I want my pieces to last forever, so I put a lot of thought and time into the quality of the materials. I want to do it right and be proud, I want to build things like my grandfather would do it." 
Southern Lights has been featured in, The NY Times, Southern Living Magazine & on,, and Selected for the 2013 "Made in the South Awards" by Garden and Gun Magazine. 

Check Southern Lights out on any of these outlets as well: Facebook, Instagram, Vimeo and YouTube

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