Friday, February 28, 2014

Thank Goodness I Found: Hints of Spring!




Spring comes every year, even if just for a moment, and this year we are really looking forward to it all across the country. I am not one to wish away any season...well, I might disagree in the blazing days of July and August...but my tulips are coming up and I wand them to flourish this year and that means we need warmer days and lots of sun!

I hope our hint of Spring puts some pep in your step on this lovely Friday!

-Alison and Laurie

Thursday, February 27, 2014

DIY: New Mommy Pin


This weekend we are having a baby shower for my cousin who is due in April. Our theme is "Preppy Baby" so we have incorporated a lot of fun elements into designs for the shower (more on that later)! Instead of the usual corsage, I created this little pin for her to wear. I thought later on she could use Mr. Houston James Richerson's initials and her new Mom heart charm for a sweet little charm bracelet. 
-Laurie


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Gardening Season - Spring is Almost Here!


As Spring draws near I want to encourage your green thumb! This past weekend the Knoxville Botanical Garden (KBG) hosted a Gardening 101 class and it was quite informative. KBG hosts a number of classes each year and I think it is the coolest.

Things we learned:
  • Prepare your soil in the Fall
  • Your local Extension Office has a wealth of free information about gardening in your specific region - If you click on this link you can find information for Tennessee vegetable gardening
  • Tomatoes are typically best if you purchase a seedling...they are hard to grow from seed apparently (we have always started so late in the season we have to get a plant)
  • Beans are a plant that gives back to your soil...if you have been gardening for a while and have planted a lot of one thing in your bed maybe grow some beans there this season to give back to the soil
  • You can make your own greenhouse for about $10
  • Companion planting is the way to go -- some plants repel pests for veggies others provide things needed to other plants
  • No till gardening sounds easy but annoying for the gardener with aesthetics in mind

Your Spring garden starts with just a few steps. We completed the steps in just about an hour in our class and at home this weekend.

  1. Decide where you would like to plant -- in doing this be sure to take into account where the most sun hits your yard and plant there. 
  2. As seen below, take a hoe and remove the top layer of sod from the area you are going to plant in.
  3. If you have compost, put some (maybe a small shovel full per 2sq ft) on the top of your soil and use a hand tiller (this is what we like) or a garden pickaxe to break up the soil and mix in the compost. 
  4. You may either make little trough rows to place your seeds in or scatter them about if you aren't as anal as the hubs and I. The seed packages for the seeds of your choosing will best help in learning how deep or how far apart you need to plant.
  5. We learned this weekend that we can plant outside at the moment and not fear frost because of our homemade greenhouse. Our beds are maybe 5ft. wide/6ft. long and because of that we can get 2 10ft. long 1in. diameter PVC pipe and piece of 10x20 plastic drop cloth to create a greenhouse. Place each end of the pipe in the ground on opposite sides of the bed to create an arch; place the plastic over the top of the pipe and weigh the edges down. Tadaaa!! (Be sure to water your seeds in the morning or evening and do not keep it covered if the temperature outside reaches much above 75 degrees. Your little plants will roast.)     
-Alison


The chatterbox down at the end of the table was at the garden with his family from Burundi...they are able to have their own garden thanks to the Knoxville Botanical Garden as they share garden plots with the community for families without access to land. 

Getting instruction for our hands-on project
One of the other kids who's family was working on their plot...showing us how it's done. 





Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tasty Tuesday: Afternoon Snack



You know the feeling...mid-afternoon strikes and all of a sudden you crave something a snack. A lot of the time, I crave salty things most likely because I have not had enough water to drink. All of these things are healthy, natural and easy snacks to pick up at the grocery store and pre-package if you take snacks to work. My favorite peanut butter has very few ingredients, honey being one of them. It's great with a piece of fruit. Nut Thins are awesome for something with a crunch and the ranch packs a flavorful punch. The kale chips were a surprise to me. I love the nacho flavor and didn't expect to. It's a great afternoon snack and makes you feel full until dinner. If I'm working out, I love Luna bars for some protein to fuel the workout. Occasionally I will drink some kombucha with a snack and the verbena rose is a nice mild flavor that masks the sourness that kombucha naturally has. All of these things can easily be found at Kroger and will crave that afternoon crash. 
-Laurie

Monday, February 24, 2014

Musical Monday: St. Vincent


St. Vincent "Digital Witness" on Vimeo.


I have loosely followed the work of St. Vincent, Annie Clark, in the last few years and have always been intrigued by her work. Seeing that she will be playing in Nashville very soon I learned she has a new album out, St. Vincent. I have also learned that you can listen to the entire album right now thanks to NPR First Listen.   

So, the hubs and I spent a portion of our evening Friday listening to the album. I highly recommend it. I might have to listen to it all day today. People like St. Vincent remind me it takes all kinds to keep creativity flowing. What one person hates another might like; in the brief interview between Annie and NPR, Annie mentions she often times likes what others don't. I am so so glad. What a fantastic piece of work she is able to deliver thanks to her view of the world.

Be sure to check her site for the rest of her tour dates. This is a brief list of what is coming soon.  

02.26 Terminal 5 NYC, NY
02.27 House of Blues Boston, MA
02.28 Union Transfer Philadelphia, PA
03.01 9:30 Club Washington, DC
03.02 9:30 Club Washington, DC
03.04 Haw River Ballroom Saxahapaw, NC
03.05 Orange Peel Asheville, NC
03.07 Marathon Music Works Nashville, TN
03.08 Tabernacle Atlanta, GA

Friday, February 21, 2014

TGIF: Thank Goodness I Found Radiant Orchid




2014 looks like it will be a pretty bright year with Radiant Orchid as the color. It is fun and playful, slightly mysterious and enticing. We love color and wish you a brilliantly colored rest of your 2014.
-Laurie & Alison

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Warm Light



A simple lighted candle can lift your spirits with a wonderful smell and warm glow it offers. Flickering candles seem so soothing to me and a little bit indulgent in a small way. I love all of these candles above and their scents are all so different. Aunt Sadie's candles will fill up a room quickly-the tree smells are wonderful. Capri Blue Volcano will always always be a favorite of mine but I have a new favorite in Voluspa's French Cade Lavender. I love them equally. Mrs. Meyers has an array of wonderful scents but the Basil is so uplifting. I recently ran across the Man Can at Whole Foods and while I have never burned this one, the Campfire scent was exactly how you love a campfire to smell...that woodsy warm scent that even sticks to your hair when you go home. 
-Laurie

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Tasty Tuesday: Crustless Quiche



Laurie and I are both the type of cooks that improvise. Sometimes we think we have something in our pantry but we don't...no big deal. Reworking recipes to fit the ingredients you have is a helpful skill, I think. Well, this happened when we started to make a quiche a couple of weeks ago. We didn't have a crust and realized we didn't have the "correct" cheese. Not only that, we were running out of time as Laurie had an appointment. So, we ended up with very yummy, mini crustless quiche.

-Alison and Laurie

Laurie even works out in the kitchen when she chops onions...

Freshly juiced apples...I think so!



Monday, February 17, 2014

Sewing 101: The dreaded button


I think for most modern girls (myself included), sewing falls by the wayside in the list of accomplish-able tasks. I am attempting to put an end to that in my own life (thanks to my mom over Christmas for reminding me how to thread my great-grandmother's sewing machine) and in Laurie's as well. Sewing a button back on to her jacket was something that needed to happen so when we were able to spend a weekend together it became a quick teaching moment. Do not let this imply that I know all.

Threading a needle: When I do this I always try to get a lot more thread then necessary because you can always reuse it. Put the thread through the top of the needle and then make both ends even with one another. Make a loop with the end of the threads together about a half inch from the tips of the threads and circle the ends thru the loop a few times so that when you pull the ends through the loop the final time you will have a good sized knot that won't pull through your fabric. 
The stitch: Start from the back of the fabric in the exact spot where you want the item to be sewn, push the needle through the fabric to the front side and place your button over your needle and thru the whole of the button. If you are working with a four-whole button push the needle back through the front side of the fabric in the hole diagonally across from the starting whole. In this case the button has one w\hole and needs to be able to move a little so I did not pull it super tight to the fabric. Repeat at least 10 times.
The tie off: make your last stitch end on the backside of the fabric with at least four inches of  extra thread on your needle for easier tying. Thread the needle through the stitches on the underside of the fabric but before you pull the thread tight, loop the needle through the circle you have created with the thread at least three times and then pull tight while guiding the knot you are creating to the fabric. Cut the thread with a little extra from the needle and for extra security take each end of the thread and tie a knot or two. 

All done! Laurie can now button the warmth inside her jacket and you can now keep your clothes buttoned on as well!

Stay crafty and classy!

-Alison (Laurie and Oliver) 

Oliver wanted to help...aka be in the way. 




Friday, February 14, 2014

A LOVEly Bouquet: Valentine's Day Flowers on a Budget


I am of the mindset that fresh flowers are always necessary in a home. Not just a silly day like today. There is also no need to spend gobs of money on little lovelies that will soon come to pass. 

Today I bring to you a $10 Valentine's Day bouquet! My secret, only buying a portion and going to the great outdoors for the rest. I also wanted to show gentleman readers that a dozen roses isn't always the most romantic choice. In fact, I personally don't find it very romantic at all. I searched for more Spring florals but because everyone buys roses that was about all I could find. Always in Bloom here in Knoxville provided the spray roses and wax flowers (little pink filler flowers). The landscaping around my office helped me with the rest. Shhh...don't tell on me. ;-)

I love the dark contrast of the deep eggplant and the green mixed with the soft pink and ivory. I choose spray roses because they open up beautifully and have a very full and romantic look and I am loving the less put together floral arrangements I am seeing from people like Alice Gao (and friends) and Moon Canyon. And I think my little $5 ice bucket is the perfect vessel. 

Remember: You can save even more money if you wait a day or two after Valentine's Day...the flower cost drops dramatically. Let me be realistic, so does the chocolate. A good friend of mine has a very wise mother; they have always celebrated together a day or two after so they can get even more fun on a budget! 

My single ladies out there....This is not a day that should gain great importance. I always made a big deal out of it when I was single and now, as a woman in a marriage that doesn't indulge this "holiday," I realize that it really only means what you want it to mean. Remind a family member or dear friend how much you love them, go buy yourself some flowers because your home is softer when they are there, and enjoy this wonderful Friday! TGIF!!

With Much Love Today and Always, 

Alison

Flowers in snow...I can't handle the beauty. And I love the touch of red on these green leaves...pulls all of the colors together right nice.





Thursday, February 13, 2014

A Valentine for Everyone



You have one day left before Valentine's Day! I am here to help you out a little though. It will be our little secret! If you don't have time to go to the store or have multiple people who are special to you (friends, family, significant others) that you like to wish a little happy to, just download this card and make someone's day brighter. Just right click, save and print out!
Anyone can be a darling, don't you think?
-Laurie

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Fashion Flashback: Fur for the Modern Lady


As I lay on my couch under a fleece blanket with a space heater blowing my way I am sort of happy that winter is not yet gone. Why would you be sad to see it go when you can get all classed up in a fur from generations ago? Laurie and I love the style our grandmother and great-grandmother passed down to us in their beautiful furs. What a great addition to your everyday or evening looks! And maybe for a special outing on this upcoming Valentine's Day? I may have to get festive and wear mine to work Friday.

Laurie wore her fur on her wedding day and looks just as fabulous dressing it down with a pair of jeans and a classy pair of pumps. I, however, did not wear my fur during our August wedding. I may have been seen wearing my great-grandmother's other fur this past November in my bro-in-law's wedding. It was perfect. Even more perfect is wearing it out with a little vintage number or two like my thrift store wool, pleated skirt.

I challenge you guys to look back a decade or two or five and try your grandma's style. Macklemore loves to take your grandpa's style.

-Alison & Laurie

P.S. Remembering Mrs. Betty Sue Henry and Mrs. Alma Davis. There is always love in our heart for these two women.


You can't have class without a monogram...Oh the places these furs have been.

We were so warm and cuddly on this chilly day at the Parthenon in Nashville. Oh, and so I don't get an earfull...shout-out to my main man for pushing the shutter button for us.




Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Tasty Tuesday: My Heart BEETS for You


It wasn't too long ago that I learned of my strong like for beets and not long after that, my love for roasted beets in my grilled cheese. Should I be sharing a new idea with you, be prepared to fall in love.

Ingredients:

2 slices of bread (Flour Head Bakery White Bread is fantastic)
2 beets (peeled, sliced and roasted - I like mixing red and golden beets)
1/2 small onion (thinly sliced)
1 large kale or swish chard leave (chiffonade cuts work best)
2-3 tbs goat cheese (room temp or slightly warmed for easier spreading)
1 slice mozzarella cheese
butter for grilling

  1. Roast beets in 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes wrapped in aluminum foil pouch (drizzle with olive oil for roasting)
  2. Toss onion and greens in together in olive oil and roast in the oven at the same temperature for 5-10 minutes
  3. Spread the goat cheese on your bread
  4. Place the mozzarella on one side of the bread (I usually put a little more goat cheese on one half to hold the veggies a little better and put the mozzarella on the other half) and the roasted veggies on the other half
  5. Place the sandwich on the buttered griddle and cover with a cookware lid to hold the heat in for ooey gooey cheese meltage...flip...
  6. EAT!

-Alison

Monday, February 10, 2014

Valentine Vamp Style



Valentine's Day is a day you either love or hate. For those of you that love it and have plans with your main squeeze, go for something a little daring-a wine colored simple sexy dress accented with pops of red. You will still feel festive but a more mature with this bold pairing. Stock up your clutch with a lipstick with staying power, some mints or teeth wipes (interesting concept, no?) and a little extra fragrance. Sassy is the new sexy. 
-Laurie

Friday, February 7, 2014

First Friday: Interior Design

Gomez Associates from Architectural Digest - This NYC mother, daughter team got this space just right. I am sure natural light is limited but you would never notice with the bright whites and reflective surfaces. And I love the idea of a book shelf in the kitchen. Cook books, breakfast or lunch reading materials...
 
While you all will not get an interview from a respected Interior Designer today, you will get some lovely examples of great rooms and designers you might want to keep an eye on. I felt like I was interviewing myself a bit in trying to decide what looks I did or didn't like.

Rue Magazine is a great source for getting to know other designers and creatives. Design Sponge is also a good place to start. Design Sponge has a number of "do it yourself" helpful ideas and tips that can help you create a designer-inspired home. Rue had a fantastic piece or two of how to create great looks and user-friendly rooms in tiny spaces. All I could think about was how much was packed into our 200 sq. ft. Greenwich Village apartment this summer. It is amazing how you can get used to having so little. It was a great experience for me. You should try it!

Now that I have talked about trying a small space on I am going to show you a few large rooms with minimal clutter or decor. Along with a space or two holding a few more items. I like to think that I can live in a space with few things but then I think about my craft shelf and kitchen must-haves and fear it may not be possible for me. Such an American. Gotta have everything I want around me all the time.

As always, for image sources or more ideas follow us on pinterest!

-Alison

I am such a sucker for massive, large pane windows. Jill Sharp Brinson - Jill tends to marry modern with farmhouse. Most of the time I enjoy this until rooms become too cluttered. These rooms look just right for me. I might even take little Scottie pup.

Barbara Hill - Natural light everywhere. My favorite.

Barbara Hill - A Southwestern minimalist designer I found in the pages of Dwell magazine. I love to imagine myself living in an ultra modern, clean lined home with big views. I can't imagine what the acoustics are like in this room and that worries me  a bit but I love the look and idea of the space.
Soledad Alzaga - Rue Magazine - This room stopped me in my clicking tracks. The shade of gray, the texture of the velvet and the oyster mirrors, and the leading lines of the chair at the head table leading you to the most dream-like minimal painting above the mantle...everything works in this room for me. There is hardly anything in this room but you don't feel that way; yet you don't feel overwhelmed.
Soledad Alzaga - Soledad is a San Fransisco based designer who is originally from Buenos Aires. She is easy to keep in touch with online and even shares her work on Pinterest.
Soledad Alzaga - This is a design featured in Rue Magazine. I just feel like she places emphasis in THE area of the room that deserves it the most. And the pops of color here and there. I just can't get enough. 

Finishing the post with one last "punch" from Soledad. Sorry, I had to. I mean, who would thing to place that bold of an image in a space so classic and romantic? I would never but oh how perfect it is! What a fun space to host people in.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

First Friday: Get out there!


As the year is still young I want to remind you all of the inspiration behind my First Friday pieces. First Friday events are something I learned about in college. I came from a small town with a very small and very young arts community. We did not have galleries or events to enjoy.

There was a small community in Jackson when I went to school that hosted First Friday art events downtown. I have not doubt that this scene has grown as well as the events that support the culture. I think a diverse community is so important. A community where lawyers and artists can get to know each other. I can say that because I am married to an almost lawyer who is also an musician. He also worked for a fantastic organization this past summer that benefits the creative community (Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts). I know these types can be friends. Promise.

I think First Friday events are the coolest and can help foster community-building relationships. Please remember to get out there this Friday night and brush shoulders with local artisans and small business owners that support this fantastic, once-a-month event. I can speak from experience; Knoxville and Franklin have a number of galleries and businesses that open their doors by at least 6pm and remain open until 9-10pm. The times may vary as individual businesses and galleries decide themselves. Nashville has traded in their First Friday for First Saturday. You might also find some tasty treats and beverages to sip on if you make it out before the supply runs dry.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Pre-Spring Cleaning: Stinky Cutting Board


I don't know if you all have ever had this problem...I haven't until now. When we got married a little over three years ago one item I knew I wanted was a stout, wooden cutting board. For starters, because they look cool and I had heard they were better for your knives.

It wasn't until very recently that I began to notice my fruit tasting more like onions or garlic than the citrus I should taste. This is a problem. My hunt soon began for a natural process to rid my wooden board of this disastrous odor.

Solution: Lemon and Coarse Salt

Lemons are also a natural disinfectant I have learned through this process. Not only that, there are dozens of cleaning uses for lemons. I have found a few on this site.

If lemon juice and salt does not get your odor out you might try a baking soda paste (BS and water). Or maybe even a good dose of vinegar. Rinse any of these methods away with the hottest water you can stand. Then let the board dry and coat with a mineral oil of choice.

Done. Good as new cutting board. Not that this is hard, but I may devote my small bamboo board to onions and garlic. In doing research I have also seen that end cut maple is the best wood to use for a cutting board. I have no idea what mine is. Now we all know.

-Alison

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Tasty Tuesday: Grown-Up Lunchables


Remember lunchables? If you are a mom, you may even know them pretty well right now. I loved lunchables when I was in school. I have been recreating a healthy, grown up version of a lunchable lately and absolutely love it. Instead of carby crackers, I used pita crisps (9 pieces for 120 calories), Babybel cheese cut up into fourths and Boar's Head lunch meat since it has a little less sodium. Have the folks at the meat counter slice the meat a little thicker than you normally would for a sandwich. For my treat, I added half of a Cara Cara orange (my husband wanted the other half, totally fine if you want a whole. I was sharing) but you could add whatever fruit you like. It's so quick and easy to do in the morning, plus it's tasty and leaves you feeling full but healthy…and you get to pretend to be a kid again. What's better than that?
-Laurie

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Fashion of Versatility



I have grown to love more versatile pieces in my wardrobe that can transition from day to night, and even classic pieces that span seasons. I often get accused of only wearing something once, when that is never the case. I like to challenge myself to not wear the same thing the same way twice. It doesn't always happen of course (rarely ever does) but it's fun to challenge myself to think of something in a new way for a different day. It makes me feel like I am getting more bang for my buck when I figure out new ways to wear something. I love taking something sophisticated on its own, like the black dress and sassing it up with a well cut jacket in unexpected materials/color combinations for a more formal occasion. Unexpected items bring out your own style without being over the top. If items can go for a multiple looks, that is always a plus in my book. Jackets do this a little easier though. I think the ever-popular "Creme de la Creme" sweatshirt paired with rugged jeans and a shoe pop of pattern is a fun alternative to just a casual sweatshirt and jeans. It's a nice look for brunch with girlfriends but can go into an evening out as well. Versatility is your friend. Expand your wardrobe with what you have. 
-Laurie


 

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