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Sunday, November 30, 2014

December Calendar

Happy December! It's the most wonderful time of the year! Use this calendar to mark down your days to Christmas and enjoy every day of the best month of the year. Download here
-Laurie & Alison
Photo by Alison McQuain

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

These are photos from my grandmother's beautiful Thanksgiving tablescape last weekend.
We wish you and your family a day of blessing and reflecting on all you are thankful for.
We are thankful for you. 
-Laurie & Alison

Monday, November 24, 2014

Tasty Tuesday: Thanksgiving Dressing

Last year I made my grandmother’s dressing for the first time ever. I was afraid but careful, trying to decipher her potion recipe as if it were a magic spell. I must have gotten it right, because it tasted just like Gangie’s. I made a batch without chicken recently for a Thanksgiving potluck at work, and just pre-made our dressing for the big day on Thursday. We host my in-laws and family for a nice relaxing lunch on Thanksgiving. While dressing always seems daunting, it’s nice to just take things a step at a time and enjoy the process. If you’re hosting or want to try your hand at dressing this year, try my grandmother’s recipe!

Start out making your cornbread using this recipe. Be sure to get your skillet really hot first with a little oil on the bottom and a sprinkling of cornmeal. You can tell when the skillet is ready when the meal turns brown. 
Mix together:
2 cups corn meal
1/4 cup flour
2 eggs
2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
Cook at 450 until the top is golden and crispy. 

Meanwhile, cook 4 chicken breasts with bone, add a little bit of butter and salt to make the broth, adding plenty of water. 
While the chicken cooks, saute 1 cup onion, 1 cup celery in butter until brown.
Boil 2 eggs. Once the water starts boiling, set a timer for 5 minutes. When the timer goes off, turn off burner and let eggs sit for 15 minutes before cooling in ice water for easy shell peeling. 
Toast 3 pieces of bread, cut up finely. 

Mix together crumbled cornbread, toast, celery and onion mix, cooked eggs. Add seasoning of:
1 tsp poultry seasoning (add more if needed)
1 tsp sage (add more if needed)
black pepper and salt to taste

Put the cooked chicken on the bottom of a greased pan. Top with seasoning, bread and veggie mixture. Add in 3 cups of chicken broth, adding more until it is a little thick. Cook for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Must Shop Event: Yuletide Pop-Up Shop

I love pop-up shops. I think they are a fantastic idea. What a wonderful way for people to learn about the work of creatives in their area. There are a couple of lovely creative people who reside in/used to reside in Jackson, Tenn. who have created a two time (so far) pop-up shop...I want you all to know about it and visit them this November 29th! Especially our West TN readers. I know you are out there!

Saturday, November 29th
8am - 8pm
Dwell AV
116 E Lafayette Street
Jackson, TN 38301

You all know one of the artists that will be participating this month! Mrs. Merideth Holder will be sharing some of her most recent work along with creators, Lisa Garner and Keely Beasley, and many more. Some are returning others may be new. One thing is certain, Lisa and Keely have chosen the very best. On top of all of that Lisa is a fantastic cook (I am sure Keely is too but she has never cooked for me so I can't say...hopefully I can say one day. ha!) and they will be providing some little tasty treats to keep you going as you shop. Or to pacify the less excited shopper you may have in toe.

Keely Beasley & Lisa Garner

The photos you see here were taken by the ever-talented Aaron Hardin at their last shopping day earlier this year. Doesn't it look so fun! I really wish I were going to be in the area for this event. Below is their list of vendors. I have provided links to their sites/visuals as much as I could. You just have to go to see how awesome they all are. Please visit the Yuletide Pop-Up Shop Facebook page to see mini bios of each artist as well.

Courtney Searcy | The Commonplace Coffee Co. | Douglass Gray | Fig Paper Co. | Garner Blue
Hart Goods | Inkwell's Press | Katie Williams | Made on Acorn Hill | Mummo | MWH Pottery
Natasha Sud | The Restored Attic


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Wandering Wednesday

My mind has been wandering a lot lately. A lot. Lots of life changes and feeling like an adult more every day. Did I mentioned I just turned 29? It seems like such a significant year. A time in my life when, as a child, I thought I would have every thing "figured out." HA!

Well, as my mind wanders I found that, in fact, it isn't so bad to have a wandering mind. Read here. Now, if I can make my Wednesday wandering productive...


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tasty Tuesday: Cheesy Butternut Squash

This dish is simple and savory for colder evenings when you want to indulge. Have no fear though, this is a healthier option than a casserole. Butternut squash is a pretty popular veggie this time of year. It's simple to add some seasoning and broil a little bit of cheese on top. Try this on a chilly night as a side dish this week!


Cheesy Butternut Squash

butternut squash
garlic powder
sea salt
cajun seasoning
shredded romano
olive oil

Season butternut squash with the above seasonings to your liking. I typically cover the squash with each seasoning, going light on the cajun seasoning then mix up. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Broil for 5 minutes. Add cheese, broil for 3 more minutes or until cheese turns slightly brown. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Turkey Fit Tips

Alison and I were on a bit of blog vacation last week, so we are back are ready to tackle the holidays! Thanksgiving meals may be beginning this week for some (it is for me) and if you've been working hard to not eat junk and work out regularly, you inwardly groan when you know there will be plenty of delicious goodies to partake for the rest of the year. Here are a few tips that may help you enjoy the season while keeping your waistline in check.

1) Get in a morning workout. Most people have Thanksgiving meals either at lunch or dinner, so you have the entire morning to go for a run or get in at least a 30 minute sweat session. You will be less likely to eat more later in the day if you have made a point to be healthy at the beginning of the day

2) Go for the veggies. Make a point to eat what you know is good for you, like sweet potatoes, squash, carrots and of course turkey.

3) Use a spoonful for a measure. Just get a little bit of each dish so that you get to taste everything but are sticking to a serving size or even less. If you really like something, go back for seconds.

4) Talk! Talking more makes you realize that you are full when you actually are rather than shoveling in mouthfuls of dressing.

5) Plan a game. Get outside and run around with kids or play a game of touch football-anything that gets you moving after eating. Even just going for a walk with the family is a great way for post-meal exercise.

6) Drink water after your meal. Flush out your system with lots of liquids. Try to just sip during your meal so that you aren't creating bloat.

7) Offer to bring a dish. Bring a healthy option to your dinner so that you know you can at least have one healthy thing!

8) Don't stress! If you overeat, don't stress. Let that be your cheat day and get back on track the next day!

9) Do a cleanse! Either before or after your big meal, consider doing a juice cleanse just for a day to empty out your system and flush out toxins. Plus, you'll be way more thankful to eat what you're eating during the big meal but your stomach will be used to smaller portions so you won't want to be so full.

10) Wear fitted pants. You're already aware of the waistband so you will definitely be aware of when you overeat! I never thought that trick worked until I tried it once-oh yeah, it does!


Friday, November 7, 2014

First Friday: Lesley Eaton's Peppered Paper

You all may remember seeing a taste of Lesley's work in my First Friday tribute to moms. I'm sure those of you who heard about Lesley then are excited to hear more from her now and for those of you newbies...get ready! I wish I had a small gallery of Lesley's work. It is clean and simple yet messy and complex. And here I am enjoying art with bright, bold colors again! Maybe I don't really know what I like. My home is filled with warm/muted tones but we have one light blue room that has turned into our little gallery filled with affordable art from our travels and favorite places. I am thinking Lesley's work would look perfect in that room. I have a problem though...I need more wall space!

Ok, back to Lesley's art not how much I want to own it. Lesley began Peppered Paper years ago and it has grown into this interesting body of work made up of thistles, bugs, animals and musical instruments. I am having a hard time deciding if I have a favorite group. The patience and focus it must take to create these collage works of the tiniest slivers of paper...I just can't imagine. I would have to get regular messages for my tense shoulders if I tried to recreate Lesley's work. For real. Her work is quite different than the other work I have had on the blog and that makes me so happy! I hope you all enjoy learning more about Lesley!

And buy her work here.


Lesley's work currently at Tomato Head in the Gallery Shopping Center

PP: What made you decide to pursue art after completing English studies at Auburn?

LE: I actually started out taking art classes at Auburn and then ended up loving my creative writing and literature classes, and for some reason I thought that an English major was more practical, haha! I took as many art classes as I could and ended up with a minor in Art History. As long as I can remember I’ve been pursuing art in some way, and creative writing was a natural compliment to visual arts for me. Pursuing an MFA in illustration was a perfect way to combine my passion for words and images, and it’s still my hope to write and illustrate books one day.

PP: Have you always been creative or is there something you discovered in undergrad that made you make a commitment to art?

LE: Always. I’m very right-brain dominant, so I’ve always found joy in and a natural ease to the creative process: writing, drawing, imagining. In elementary school we had an assignment where we were to create a character, their food, natural habitat, etc. I created a creature that lived on a checkerboard, blending in with his surroundings, and I was asked to take it to the principle’s office to show him! I remember being so nervous and thinking it was really no big deal; creating things like that always came very easily for me.

PP: How did you land on creating a body of work centered on collage?

LE: In art school people would always say something along the lines of “your style will just find you,” which is exactly what happened. My process and style came about very intuitively, and continues to develop without me intentionally directing it. There’s something I love about the tactile nature of painting and cutting and gluing papers. I love working with my hands in that way, the resulting textures and vibrant colors, and the contrast created where painterly chaos meets crisp hard edges. 

PP: I love how bright and cheerful your color palate is. Have you always gravitated to these colors? Did you choose them mainly in thinking of illustrating children's books?  

LE: I love bright colors! I think they work well for children’s books, but that’s not my reason for choosing them. I’m just naturally drawn to bright, happy colors, even in decorating our house. In my newer work I use a lot of the same pieces of “peppered paper,” and I’m really happy with how unifying the color is. Some of the same paper that’s used for the insects is also found in the instruments and the antlers on the deer and elk. 

PP: Have you always created wildlife and musical instruments?

LE: My first piece of “peppered paper” work was a thistle, which is appropriate since thistle is considered a weed, and the work is created out of my drop cloths, the paper on my drafting table used to collect the excess paint and splatters, i.e. scrap paper. After the thistle came the banjo, then a few other instruments, and now the insects and wildlife.

PP: What made you decide on this subject matter? 

LE: I’m interested in the use of line and composition creating each subject. There are thin strings and elegant thick lines in each piece, unifying the work along with the paper. I’m also very aware of the design and the negative space, so I have to be able to picture each object in my mind for it to make the cut, literally! Each series starts with one object or element in my mind that I want to shape with my paper: the prickly parts of the thistle, the body of the mandolin, the antlers of the deer and elk, every unique and graceful detail of the insects. 

PP: Does having two busy little boys influence your work

LE: Definitely time in my studio is a lot more precious these days. The creative process is so intuitive for me. I work best when I don’t have to pay attention to time, a luxury I just don’t have right now. I’m learning to work in shorter periods and on a somewhat smaller scale; the insects are a good example of this.

The photo on the left is Lesley's Peppered Paper and on the right are originals

PP: When you create a piece, what does the process look like? Are you drawing the subjects at all? Painting a lot of paper to build your subject? 

LE: As I mentioned, the image is first created in my mind, then I gather references. I want all the details to be correct, even though the shapes and colors are very expressive. Most often I start with a drawing, then I use tracing paper to focus on individual parts of my drawing, finding the perfect piece of “peppered paper” for each component. Even though my painted papers are collections of unintentional color and design, I am very intentional in selecting the paper. Sometimes it’s trial and error until I get it right. By using tracing paper I can usually see if my selection will work before getting out the knives! Occasionally I’m not happy with my first selection and I change it up once everything is placed together. I’ll also paint over papers if I want a solid color for something, but I always make sure some of the “peppered paper” shows through. The final and most tedious step is the gluing. It takes time, but I find it very meditative. 

PP: Tell me about the pieces that currently make up your exhibit at Tomato Head. Are these pieces you made specifically for this show?

LE: The majority of the work was made specifically for this show. Some are continuations of a series; I added some new instruments and insects. The animals are a new series I started in preparation for this show. I began experimenting with tearing some of my papers for the animal series, which was fun and created a different effect. I also played around with not gluing every piece completely, allowing some fur, whiskers, and wings to be more three-dimensional. 

PP: How long will this exhibit be up? Do you have anything scheduled in the coming months?

LE: My work is now at The Tomato Head in the Gallery Shopping Center on Kingston Pike in West Knoxville and will be there through December 8th. I’m hoping to participate in the holiday market on Market Square the first three Saturdays in December. 

After graduating with a Bachelor's degree in English Literature and Art History from Auburn University, Lesley's love of story telling and the imagination led her to pursue a Master of Fine Arts in Illustration from Savannah College of Art and Design. 

Lesley's style incorporates painted paper collage, which reflects her passion for exploring the beauty of juxtaposition. The chaos of the tears, spatters, paint strokes, and exciting textures of painted paper combines with the crisp hard edges of cut paper in engaging compositions. A bright and vivid palette reflects the nature of her stories, which speak of the importance of imagination in a hopeful and fanciful context. Her work is bold and quiet, scary and hopeful, realistic and fantastical, chaotic and peaceful, always filled with the beauty of chaos and order, as is the process of creating. 


Thursday, November 6, 2014

AMP Recent Work: The Hills & Their Sweet Girl

We have met some lovely people while in Knoxville and The Hills are two of them. Not long after we became friends, Greg and Emily announced their sweet Adeline would be making them a family of four. Of course we were so pumped for them! I was so honored to document some memories from their pregnancy. We met on their due date and 6th wedding anniversary for these maternity photos. I mean. Whoa. Then came sweet Adeline. And man, she really is so sweet. Her modeling and stamina is top notch. Newborn photo shoots are always filled with such love. These shoots always take a while (babies get hungry or miss their mamma's arms) but they couldn't make me happier. And I'm so excited to share these photos with my Paper Pearl family!

Congratulations Greg and Emily!!


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

1 Lamp 4 Ways

One of my favorite pieces of home decor is a lamp...I love lighting and always look for unique shapes. If you pick a classic base it can be timeless, especially when you switch out the lamp shades to fit your changing style. That cockatoo lamp...swoon. If anyone wants to get me the Moroccan Wedding lamp shade I won't be sad about it.


Monday, November 3, 2014

Our Invitations

I recently visited Alison in Knoxville for her to take photos of all of my wedding invitations for my new's not finished but you are welcome to take a peek on the link to the right! Since today is my second anniversary, I wanted to share her photos of my invitation suite that turned out so pretty AND Alison's invitation as well! Alison's invitation was one of the first ones I ever did and it's still one of my favorites. 


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