Friday, January 29, 2010

twenty and counting

It's been a rough week. Work really kicked my rear and had me waking up in the middle of the night stressed out and worrying over various projects. Not to mention this preggo heartburn is a major bummer. I've been popping Tums like they're goin' out of style. {note : I promise not to bore you to pieces too often with my annoying symptoms. It won't happen again. Maybe.} Anyway, I really struggle with leaving work alone at the end of the day. As much as I try, it never seems to happen. Paper, pantones, clients and fonts, oh my! There is always more to do and my pretty lil' computer is just sitting there... enticing me back over.

But on with some less stressful, really FUN news : my belly hit a pretty big milestone. We went to the doc this week and had the 20 week ultrasound. Yowza! That little "cashew" we last saw is growing. Now I realize it's supposed to be growing here, but seeing it is just so wild. We had to close our eyes at one point since we're not finding out if it's a boy or girl. Apparently we're in the minority because the nurse seemed shocked and said only a tiny percent of folks choose the surprise factor. Well, we're in that tiny percent so mums the word. So sorry, but it'll be one heck of a surprise on the big day. It still doesn't seem real sometimes.


The lights were dimmed and hubs kept squeezing my hand. We just watched in awe. Somehow everything seemed calm and bright for that moment and I finally felt at peace.


Thursday, January 28, 2010

grey gardens


I don't have much today, but will share my vote for a great movie to rent. Grey Garden's rocked. Fascinating, bizarre and beautiful all at once. Momma and I watched it over the holidays and were mesmerized with the house and the larger than life personalities of Big Eadie & Little Eadie. It's a weird story and yet it's totally captivating. Drew Barrymore is incredible in this role. I wanted to find out about the real characters to see if the movie re-make had embellished. They didn't. It's all real and you can't even believe it.


photos via greygardens

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

bedroom dilema

Our bedroom is currently in a state of confusion. The curtains are too long, our new bed fills up the entire room, the rug doesn't go, my side tables are hideous, and hubs claims the bedspread from Anthropologie is like one of the tapestries I had in college. Harumph. I'm not a fabulous decorator by any stretch of the means, but I do think I have a pretty decent eye. Which is why it drives me batty to walk in there and feel like nothing works. I have been keeping a file of bedroom images from magazines and blogs and hopefully it will transpire into something glorious. Though I'm secretly hoping that when my mom & aunt Louise {who's an interior designer} come for a visit next month, they will be the ones to turn my mess into greatness. Or at the very least, something presentable… pretty please! We shall see.





images via domino * house beautiful * and unknown (so sorry!)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

belly laughs

There are pregnancy books, blogs, newsletters, websites and even iphone apps. Overload and overwhelming. Honestly, I am better off not knowing every little detail. Some of it kinda freaks me out. However, over the weekend I started reading a hilarious book called Belly Laughs by Jenny McCarthy. It arrived in my mailbox a couple days ago from my sweet friend Molly. It's very light and funny with a couple of informative tidbits mixed in. Plus I realized I'm not alone in wanting to pop Tums continuously. Thank you Mols! Hubs keeps asking me if I'm reading up on this whole thing as if to say… do you have any idea what you're doing? Well no sir, I don't. I'm counting on instinct to kick in thank you very much. My plan is to rely heavily on all my friends who have bambinos. Ladies, be on the look out for my frantic calls for help!


Monday, January 25, 2010

west end walk


The weekend weather was a total drag, but earlier in the week, hubs and I headed out for a walk. The West End is an area of downtown where you can usually find swarms of people outdoors. A hub for walkers, bike riders, children feeding ducks and dogs playing. There's even a row of art galleries with their doors open and the Reedy River running by. So we parked in town and then followed a path down into Falls Park. It seemed like everyone in town was out, soaking up the much missed sunshine. Big buddy was a trooper and seemed to really dig the quaking ducks. He's feeling so much better on the steroids. We are so thankful to see some personality coming back!



Thursday, January 21, 2010

memory making


Well I have a new project to add to my list. Scrapboxes. Yepper, I am definitely going to create one of these little beauties. While working and watching the Marth Stewart show, yes I am multi talented and can two things at once, I was inspired by this craft segment. Darcy Miller, the wedding guru, creates these amazing family collages in box frames. She even had an opening to exhibit her work, called Family. She takes family photos, scraps of paper, epherma from vacations, or even old baby toys to create these memory boxes.



Ya know when you have some memorable things that are too bulky or awkward for a scrap book? That's where the shadow box comes in. I wish I could say I was a big scrapbooker, but no. I just pile things neatly or not so neatly into drawers or bins around the house, saving them for I don't know what. And I used to be so good about keeping up with photo albums, but even that has eluded me lately. Sadly I haven't even put my wedding album together. I thought I 'd save a little dough and get really crafty and make my own. Well that sure hasn't happened, but one day I swear I'm going to do it. I promise.


I guess my invitation got lost in the mail. Shoot! This looks like it was so much fun. They even had a photographer there taking portraits + Darcy sketching you, so guests could leave with their own personalized artwork ready for a scrapbox. They're adorable and no detail was left untouched. But of course - it was the Martha team. Even the lollipops had doodles on them. Now those would be adorable for a baby shower. Looks like they're from beau-coup.


In the meantime I'm going to make myself one of these sweet memory boxes over the weekend. Not sure what it will be of but… I'll let ya know how it goes!

photos via weddingbee spread via martha stewart mag

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

rock paper scissors

I may be a blogger, but I'm old fashioned when it comes to certain things. Like a hand written note. Nothing better than swinging open that mailbox to find a special note from a friend. Of course it helps when it's killer stationary. And a little letterpress never hurt anybody. Letterpress printing holds a special place in my heart. It's tactile and imperfect nature lends itself to cool posters and invitations. I use it all the time for work. So when mom and I went to pick out stationary for the men of the house, father - brother - husband, as Christmas presents, we headed for Rock Paper Scissors in Franklin, TN.

I loved the owners beliefs as well :
* Paper is a lifestyle * The Barefoot Contessa can do no wrong
* There's no excuse not to send a thank you note
* A loaf of French bread and pat of butter can make you feel better

* Gift bags are lazy * As far as gifts go... anything paper is perfect!


This stationary boutique on Main Street was perfect. Dad got engraved long cards with lined envelopes and husband & Wilbur got letterpress note cards. Good pricing, a huge selection of options and the note cards were a big hit with the boys. Momma, we did good! Plus the girl that worked there was really sweet and helpful. Even if you don't need stationary, I would drop in if you're ever near. I kept picking up all the cute paper goods around the store. Hmm… maybe if we get our act together we'll have some Tenn Hens products floating around a store such as this. Yes sirry bob - we're gonna do it too!

Monday, January 18, 2010

working away

image via cleavingmind
I've been workin' like a fool the last few days and that is just fine with me. I'm always grateful to be busy. Plus that means it's hubs turn to do to the grocery shopping and the dinner cooking! Sweet team that we make around here.

Tenn Hens has been cranking out a few new ideas and working on a big 16th birthday invitation. Apparently, a sweet sixteenth is all the rage. I'm pretty sure I just had a barn party with hot dogs and ruffles. Plus I always drew my own invitations and had them copied on neon paper. They were awesome, but I think these will fit the bill a little better for this day and age. During this work overload, I did happen to find the time for some socializing. It's hard to meet new people in a new town and we were so spoiled back home. But we're venturing out and making some new friends. It's funny, I feel like we're almost dating again! Does hubs like the guy? Do I get along with the girl? Hilarious things coming out of my mouth, to people I barely know and no excuse of a buzz! Nice. No, we're actually meeting some super nice folks. Though I felt like I was back in college on Saturday showing up at a party, not knowing a soul. There was a tight group of girls huddled in the kitchen, so I followed the boys outside, played with a big chocolate lab and stuffed myself with their low country boil and steamed oysters. Oh and I watched as one of the boys kept putting old Christmas trees on the fire pit. See… I told you I felt like I was back at Auburn! Alright, back to work chickadees.

Friday, January 15, 2010

blackberry farm

I've always been dying to visit Blackberry Farm. So I was tickled to see Sam Beall on the Martha Show this morning, discussing his new cookbook. I drooled over the photography when I flipped through it at the bookstore. And he cooked carrot souffle on the show - that's my aunt Louise's best recipe ever. Sounds a bit odd, but it's amazing. In fact, I'll have to get that recipe from her and share with everyone.

The farm is a family operated Inn on a beautiful farm near the Smokey Mountains. Apparently the cuisine is a main attraction for foodies all over the country, but they also have plenty of outdoor activities and a spa. Sign me up! I also saw a pretty sweet give-away today of some of their food products on this blog : Spice and Sass. I signed right up. If I win, I'll just close my eyes, pretend I'm sitting outside in a rocking chair in East Tennessee and nibble away on some good ole' southern chow chow!


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

pattern inspiration

She knows me so well. My sweet, dear, soul sista cousin. I'm a picky lady. I can't help it. I like really well designed things. What can I say… it's a curse. So this fabulous cousin of mine, gave me one such well designed item this Christmas. I think she got them at Anthropologie. Go figure, I'm obsessed with that place. She picked out 2 cloth bound, Penguin classics : Sense and Sensibility + Jane Eyre. Be still my heart. They're beautiful and now I want to collect the entire series. I've literally been moving them around my house, trying to decide which spot looks the best. Suppose I should try and read them again too! I was pumped to see this article about the graphic designer responsible. Coralie designed this 10 book-series and included a beautiful matte foil design on each piece. Ahh, what a dream.

penguin classics

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

the big buddy

I hesitate to write about this, because it feels very fresh and emotional, but it's whats forefront on my mind today. Our big buddy dog is sick.


We started noticing a change in him around Thanksgiving. I thought it was just my parents wacky terrorists, I mean terriers bothering him and the commotion of being out of town. But he's been kind of depressed and listless and hasn't wanted to do much. And the biggest indicator is he stopped eating his food. A really bad sign since Mr Cooper loves food and can never get enough. So, we took him to the vet while home and were told we needed to do an ultrasound to check for cancer because everything else check out fine. I was hoping it was just some sort of bug. It's been super cold so when he started shaking slightly we just thought he was cold. But the little tremors were getting worse and kept going even during his sleep.

Hubs took him to this wonderful clinic in Greenville for the ultrasound last week. Good news is there was no cancer in his organs. The bad news is they believe it's neurological and could be a brain tumor. Just hearing those words sent my mind into a tailspin. To determine the tumor, we'd have to do an MRI, which of course is crazy expensive. And if they do find something, the treatment options are even more so. We decided to monitor and just see how he did the next couple days on some pain meds, But were so worried and didn't know what to do. He was simply not himself and didn't have any idea if he was in pain or not. It hurt my heart so much and I ached for what Trev must be feeling. I'd been praying really hard that he would improve.

Yesterday, while husband was in class, I noticed Coop was not having a great day. More shaking and he didn't want his breakfast. When I took him out for a walk about, he tip toed and seemed unsure about where to put his feet. I tried walking him around but he was wobbly and pretty out of it. I was very freaked out, called hubs and knew we needed to take him in right away. So I loaded him into the car and headed to the vet. Puffy eyes and all. We sat in the nice waiting room with 2 other dog patients, but at this point I was on the verge of sobbing right then and there. The nice lady with her jack russell asked me about Coop. I tried to smile and mutter a few words, but the tears would not subside. She smiled and understood I couldn't talk. I was really worried.

The vet could not have been nicer. She sat by him, stroking his belly, explaining what she believed was going on. We don't know exactly, but all signs point to neurological and that to her says brain tumor. If that indeed is what it is, prognosis is not good. Not good at all. They just get worse and lifespan is limited. By this point I was still a mess. I would blame this on my prego hormones, but I think it was just the enormity of it all. It hurt all over. Still does. The sweet vet even gave me a hug as I pulled myself together.

It's just that this all happened so fast. That's what I told my vet friend, Carrie, when she called to check on the patient. I want him to get old, and fat and get more of that white beard he's started growing. I want him to nuzzle our new baby this summer and go on walks with the stroller. It all seems very unfair.

So buddy is going on a steroid for now. It won't fix what is wrong, but it will make him feel better and help with any pain. And we are going to stay positive. Layer extra blankets around his big bed, give him more belly rubs, feed him more treats and just love & appreciate the big buddy while he's with us. I'll keep yall up to date, but say a little dog prayer for him if ya can.

Monday, January 11, 2010

best cake ever

I have no qualms in saying that this is the absolute best dessert I've ever made. Remember how I said hubs only request for his birthday was chocolate + peanut butter? Well, boy did I discover a doozy! This cake is the perfect amount of sweet and moist and oh my goodness, my mouth is watering as I speak. Good gracious this cake is good and he loved, loved, loved every bite. Now, I take no credit at all for this here recipe - I found it via smitten kitchen (wonderful resource by the way). Next time you have a special occasion it's a sure thang!

By the way, the cake went into the trash yesterday. I was left with no choice. I have zero self control over sweets and it was obscene how much chocolate two people were consuming. Worth every silly calorie, but it was time to say goodbye. My advice : you may want to invite a few hungry friends over so that you don't over do it!

chocolate peanut butter cake
few things I should note…
* I only used two 9" round pans b/c that's what I had, so it became a double layer for moi not a triple.
* After letting the cakes cool in the pan, when I flipped them out, a bunch of the top stuck to my wire racks - no worries I suppose, but it was messy.
* Finally, I didn't do the whole chocolate glaze thing. It really didn't need it - the peanut butter icing was divine and I wanted mine a little simpler overall.



Sunday, January 10, 2010

weekend confessions

Yall, I have some confessions to make
1 - I started adding a small scoop of Nesquik to my coffee in the morning. It's amazing and completely un-nutritious.

2 - I almost had a panic attack in Sams yesterday. At first I thought it was kind of cool, but by the time we made it over to the frozen foods, I'd had enough. Big carts, big stuff, big people - yikes! We caved and bought a gigantic loaf of fontina cheese and some $5 pink roses.

3 - I ate a serving (or two) of Ts birthday cake at each meal. Recipe to come!

4 - I finished the first "vampire" book. Currier has been bugging me to read these supposedly fabulous twilight books and after a long fight, I surrendered. The verdict is still out. Part of me liked the teenage romance idea, but I can't seem to wrap my head around this whole vampire obsession. It's kinda weird. I'll let ya know if I continue the series.

5 - My body is doing weird pregnancy things. Things I will spare you the details of, but am so glad I can call my friends and ask what in the world is going on.

Just felt like getting that off my chest this morning! Anyway, we had a really nice weekend around the house. It's bitter cold so we did quite a bit of nesting. Though we did continue our church hunt Sunday. Since moving to Greenville, we've been looking for one that's the right fit for us. It's funny how one denomination can truly vary from church to church. So far, we'd struck out, but yesterday we had a great visit to a new one and even saw a baptism. Gosh, that got me thinking about the future! The bambinos were so good and only let a couple squeaks during the service. After church, I came home and finished watching my favorite show, Sunday Morning. One of the stories was about bugs. Not just any ole bugs, but exotic, bizarre and really colorful bugs being used as art. You can read more here, but the idea is he gathers bugs from around the world, arranges them and then mounts them into frames as works of art. And the colors are not altered in any way! Sounds odd, but they're incredibly beautiful and straight from natures hand.


© christopher marley

Saturday, January 9, 2010

black eyed pea jamboree

Most people think to eat these little nuggets on New Years day for good luck. I do that too, but really, I like them year round. Maybe it's a southern thing, but I grew up eating black eyed peas all the time. Delicious in so many recipes, but my old standard is in a dip. Now, I can't take any credit for this recipe, as it comes from the m.o.m.s. cookbook via Rita Rose. But, my version is divine and is always the hit of the party, if I do say so myself! Not that I'm selfish, but....... I hesitate even sharing because that's how good it is. But we're friends and everyone should taste this in their lifetime. Seriously yall, you gotta make this right quick.

3 cans black eyed peas (drained + rinsed)
1/2 stick butter
1 jalapeno, diced and seeds removed
1 small red onion, chopped
6-8 0z shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 can chopped green chilies

Melt the butter in microwave. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and heat in oven at 350 until cheese is melted and is heated through. Or you can heat it all in microwave - stirring occasionally. Serve with Tostitos.


And since we're on the topic of b-e-peas… funny topic, but whatever, I made this recipe for husbands birthday. His only request was something new please. Well, I did a little flip-dee-loo through my cookbooks and found nothing that pleased him. So, I did the next best thing and looked on epicurious. Fabulous resource this whole online thing! My nose led me straight to a recipe called Garlicky Black-Pepper Shrimp & Black Eyed Peas. Whew, that's a mouth full and not a very good name. But, it was wonderful and pretty easy. Kind of like a Low Country stew or gumbo I'd say. We both went back for seconds which is a sure sign of a good thing. I lacked crusty bread, but it would sure be good to sop up all the broth as ya go.

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Friday, January 8, 2010

some old friends

I remember going off to college and meeting some amazing friends. We are still in touch and remain really close even though we're all in different cities. And then there are those friends that I've had since childhood. They're friends that watched each other go through the awkward years of adolesence. When high school felt like the end all be all. The crushes and dances and dramas of being a teenager. I'm lucky enough to have a bunch of these such friends. We had this extraordinary class that has kept in touch even when months go by without seeing one another. Two of these such friends are Molly and Catherine. They used to keep their ponies at our farm and we rode together all the time. Pony Club and Know Down and all sorts of horsey things we did together. We even had matching blue satin "riding" jackets that we wore with our name and "Bells Bend Farm" on the back. Yes, I still have mine and it's awesome. Who wouldn't want a blue satin jacket after all?


So, I had lunch with these two lovely ladies over the holidays. Catherine is finishing up her PhD in Anthropology at Duke. She has traveled the world studying monkeys called langurs. She is one fascinating chick! Seriously, she takes amazing images of her travels and has incredible stories of living in Vietnam, documenting and researching the monkeys. My other pal, Miss Molly, is a momma to Kate and has another baby on the way very soon. She used to teach school and is also a very creative artist in her own right. Plus she's a new blogger: lest we forget. And she's still running with 7 weeks left. Gosh, that makes me feel might lazy. My strolls with an old labrador just aren't cutting it. Anyway, Mols is such a sweet mom and promises to give me all sorts of good advise when the time comes!

oh and this is Harley… Catherine's big buddy. She adopted him from a shelter and I think she said he's part great dane, lab, hound. Either way, he's precious beyond words.


Thursday, January 7, 2010

week of the turnip

I got this little calendar as gift while I was home. Apparently I've gone from having an avocado to a turnip in my belly.


Back in our little bungalow in Greenville, I am busy prepping for husbands birthday this morning. I need to wrap his gift, which I will tell you about tomorrow in case he reads this. I have no wrapping paper so I'll have to get a bit creative. Then I'm going to do a little baking this afternoon. His only request is peanut butter & chocolate. Hmmm, I have a few ideas, but not sure where that will end up. And I think we're going to stay in so he can watch the big football game tonight, which means I need to do a little meal planning and grocery shopping. Oh and I need to fit in work, a walk, and our house is a disaster. Yikes, I better get crackin!

Monday, January 4, 2010

hello new year

2009 was a big year for us. We rung in the new year out in Colorado at a Widespread concert before heading to Breckenridge for a wild ski trip. Trevor turned 30!


One of my oldest and best friends got engaged and later married. Currier and I geared up Tenn Hens, looking for new business and worked with some wonderful clients, new and old. Hubs made the decision to apply to grad school and study for the big entrance exam. My folks celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary. Another dear friend of mine since childhood was married by Becca Stevens (same as us!).


We attended a Derby Party where my pick from the hat, Mine That Bird, won me the pot. The horse racing continued when we went to the Iroquois Steeplechase in the muddiest year on record. My cowboy boots have never been the same since.


In May, we jetted off to Europe for a 2 week adventure in Paris, Florence, Tuscany and Rome. And during the trip we celebrate our first anniversary! We made our first trip to Greenville, SC. We hosted our annual 4th of July party in Beersheba Springs that included going to a square dancing barn party.


Two of the three triplet boys I'd been friends with since first grade, got hitched. My grandfather turned 92 and we toasted him with a big family dinner. Trevor got an acceptance call from Clemson grad school. We went from looking at new houses at the beginning of the year to putting our condo on the market. We went to a Drive By Truckers concert - hubs favorite. Some special friends threw us a a going away party.


We packed up all our things and waved goodbye to our home. We got an offer on the condo the day we moved. Trevor started school and I settled us into our new home. We embarked on a new adventure. We supported one another during a hard, but exciting transition. The condo sold and we were extremely grateful. I helped throw a baby shower for one of my first friend's to have a baby. We went to our first Clemson game. We met new people in a new town.


We found out I was preggers. I tried very hard to keep our big secret. Trevor went to San Francisco for the first time. We went to my Drs appointment and saw the first ultrasound. We celebrated Thanksgiving in Tennessee and shared our news. Hubs finished his first semester of school. In December, my belly started to grow. We practically moved in with my parents for an extended stay. And finally, we did lots of catching up over the holidays with friends, family and a couple new babies in town.


So 2009 might go down as our most eventful year. Lotta changes came our way. But they brought us closer and we learned even the bad times are better with one another. It makes you really grateful for the bright moments and good times. So long '09 and here's to 2010 being one for the record!