Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter Around the House

My small but sweet collection of eggs shares a footed fruit bowl 
with some shells from our St. Helena Island vacation. 
And the wind-up peep perched on a piece of driftwood 

My dog walker and his wife always get me holiday towels.
There isn't a holiday on the calendar that I don't have a towel for!

The two Easter towels I put into Harleigh's bathroom.
She truly appreciates these little touches when she comes home.
The flowers are all fake and tacky, and I love 'em.

My mom gave me this fuzzy peep a few years ago.

Monday, April 14, 2014

A little Easter color

I like trying new ways of dying Easter Eggs. With Pinterest (and a house no longer filled with a little girl who was quite enamored with the Paas box with the punch-out holes and fizzing tablets), there's a whole new world out there. In the past, I've done these Asian-inspired eggs, and then there were the silk-tie eggs (who would have ever thought?!?! wish I'd have done more). Natural dyes. And robin eggs. This year I tried the Hawaiian Punch eggs. Didn't have nearly the luck I'd seen online (not quite a fail, but not a home run either). I may have used too much water. But regardless, the eggs formed a film of color that rinsed off to reveal a much lighter, mottled color below. The blue egg was made using blue food coloring (the blue Hawaiian Punch packet was not a blue color powder, as I'd expected). I kept the eggs in the color for about an hour and a half. The colors may not have turned out as I'd have wanted, BUT the kitchen smelled wonderful. Sorta like a cotton candy/funnel cake stand at the fair.


Here is one that turned out especially pretty. I think the flavor was grape.
But look at the tiffany blue highlights.

Here are just some of the treasures I found on the beach at 
Saint Helena Island.
The foam buoy is covered in barnacles.
The purple coral.
Shells. Drift wood.
And this bleached stick wrapped in a lovely, gauzy 
robin's egg blue piece of cloth.

A pretty sea foam green piece of sea glass.
A horseshoe crab shell.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Love Birds

A friend asked me to help her with her May wedding.
This is a second marriage for both her and her fiancé.
There's a specialness to it 
that comes from two people living busy and established lives, nurturing careers, having raised kids, 
and then finding each other
and falling in love — a love infused with the joy and passion of
youth coupled with the wisdom, patience
and forgiveness of wise older souls.
It's an honor.

Julie came on Sunday to see the staging of ideas
I'd brainstormed, created and curated.

And, folks, we have us a wedding.

Here are a few snippets of what 
we looked at and discussed on Sunday while sipping champagne
and listening to Michael Buble. 
[Forgive the poor-quality images.]

Julie has gravitated toward a bird theme.
Her Pinterest wedding board is all about the birds.
The wedding invitation is so beautiful . . . 
birds on twigs.
I can do something quite lovely with birds.

A fifteen-pane window that gal pal Ali
salvaged from the roadside and handed off to me as an 
"I just knew you would put this to good use" piece, 
got a coat of Annie Sloan chalkpaint in the loveliest
of warm whites.
It's been put to use in a grand way for
Julie and Alan's big day.

I attempted a DIY mercury glass vase, which turned out beautifully.
And so easy to do!
For staging flowers, find a picture of the arrangement 
you want online and then print it out in color and cut it out.
This was a flower arrangement that Julie pinned. 
It's what I plan on doing for the table arrangements.
And for staging purposes,
a print out is way easier than purchasing the exact flowers.
I just glued a piece of foam core to the back, stuck a wooden skewer into the foam core,
then the other end of the skewer into floral foam in the vase.

Here's the tutorial that I used, but I think for the rest of the vases,
I'm going to try this one.

Monday, March 24, 2014


Arrived home on Saturday afternoon.
Hard to leave the beach,
but so easy to come home to Chateau Gahan.
I miss her when I'm gone.

Some final images from our time on St. Helena Island.

These pix were taken on a day trip to Hunting Island State Park.
After days of rain and dreariness, it felt so good to set up my chair on the sand
and warm myself in the sun.

The lighthouse on Hunting Island was a treat. 
The little museum was fascinating. 
Definitely worth visiting.

This little lizard was with us all week.
Gideon didn't discover him until the last day.
I told him not to bother the little guy, 
and so my gentle giant entertained himself by engaging in a stare-off.
I don't know who won; I got bored and left.

Yes, I have a pair of rubber overshoes.
I know. I know.
I'm neither a 90-year-old man nor
a farmer in Iceland.
Just a gal from Norcross, GA who was dang glad to have these for treks 
on the beach in chilly, wet weather.

Gideon turned seven on St. Patty's Day.
I'd like to think that this was his best birthday ever, what with being at the beach and all.
The way the hair on his legs curls when damp with salt water . . .
so stinkin' cute.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Staying on the positive side of overcast and chilly

I'm sitting in the sunroom, the one room on the first floor of the house with a view of the ocean, its three tall un-paned windows framing the huge oaks that lead to the water, their limbs dripping Spanish-moss.  The room's two leather chairs and companion ottomans have been turned to face the windows, a move that the landlady encouraged when she met us at the property to hand off the key and offer up restaurant and tourist recommendations. We brought the matching leather chair from the TV room into the sunroom so that we'd each have a chair, and now the room feels a bit like a VIP box at a concert, the three of us girls sitting in a row and looking out at a stage showcasing the smooth waters of St. Helena Sound and the neighboring shore of Edisto Island.

The secluded house is situated on a narrow strip of land that leads down to the ocean.
The few homes here means that the beach is empty of people.
And, as you can see by the screen grab, I've not had much phone service.

I wish I could say that the weather has been ideal. No one more than my college-aged companions would have wanted these first few days to be beach worthy. There've been no tan lines, no retreats to the house to escape the heat of sunning on the sand, no trips down to the water with beach chairs, books, towels and cooler in tow. The weather has been chilly and overcast. My walks on the shell-strewn beach have been made in sweaters and coats, with one evening my hood tied close enough just so I could see, the rain pelting and wind gusting, Gideon running and jumping like it was the best day of his life.
Even Gideon enjoys the sunroom. Bird watching and beach reads.

The beach is piled with oyster and clam shells. 
The house, below right. You can see our sunroom and the adjacent screened porch.

The girls have been good sports. They float from one room to the other, carrying their blankets. Pinterest, Netflix, a big screen in the TV room with cable (a treat for the three of us who don't get cable at home), a jigsaw puzzle taking up half the real estate on the dining room table, Facebook, naps, books, snack foods and rest . . .  lots of it, more than we ever thought we'd have and, honestly, quite enough for this old gal. We've gotten out of the house — mani/pedis, good meals out, shopping/thrifting. We've drank wine and margaritas and talked and laughed. Enjoyed coffee each morning, our wake-up alarm simply the light pouring through the window blinds.

Lunch here our first day — the best she-crab soup I've ever had.

The weather should take a turn tomorrow. We'd like to go to Hunting Island, maybe Charleston. But for now, I sit in the sunroom. Gideon is curled on this bed. Once I finish this post, I'm back to reading, making a dent in the stack of library books I brought with me. The only distractions are the squirrels in the yard and a bird who has been making a nest all week on the screened-in porch. She flies from her nest in the rafters to the outside and back again, the wind chimes making the perfect lullaby for the babies to come. The intermittent groaning of the old refrigerator and the clicking of the dishwasher on its dry cycle make me feel at home and miss home at the same time. Harleigh just headed out for a run and Christina is singing in the kitchen. I'm hopeful for a sunny rest-of-the-week. If there's one thing I need for a vacation, it's sunshine. And lots of it. If it alludes us the rest of my time here, at least I'm surrounded with three easy-going, loving natures (two girls and a dog) who remind me that sunshine and warmth needn't come from a big ball of fire in the sky.

Early mornings and early evenings on the beach.
Our favorite time of day for strolls and shelling.

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Puzzle is Purchased and The Joys of Simplification

It's now single-digit counting-down days to our beach trip. Gideon and I will be heading to St. Helena Island, SC, a 5-hour drive with Harleigh's dear friend Christina, who's joining us for the week. For Harleigh, only an hour drive, so she'll meet us there. Check-in time for our beach house is 10AM, so I plan on an early start to assure our arrival by as close to 10 as possible. Want to savor EVERY minute I have of this trip. 

On my lunch break today, bought the vacation-must-have 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle (see above), because, honestly, who has time to do a jigsaw puzzle except when on vacation. Also made a trip to the library for a stack of good beach reads. This gal is more than ready to do nothing, and do it well.

Speaking of doing things well — 

Over the past few years, I've felt burdened. Not consistently. But in overwhelming chunks. My life is good. I accomplish a great deal. I have a healthy balance of work and play. I'm truly blessed. But there was always something gnawing at me, keeping me from feeling the peace I knew was attainable. A combination of reading blogs and opening my booth at the antique mall created the big Aha moment for me: I was long overdue to simplify my life. 

A number of bloggers have written about this. I'd read their stories and thought there was truth in what they were saying, but for reelz, could getting rid of possessions and streamlining my processes and approaches truly make life better? It wasn't until I rented my booth space back in September of 2013 that I enjoyed the result of simplifying. I began to clean the house, purging myself of things that I didn't need. I told Harleigh, if you want to keep it, better put a sticker on it, 'cause Momma's getting rid of stuff. It wasn't nearly as hard as I'd thought it would be. Not nearly as sad. Objects I'd surrounded myself with for years moved seamlessly from Chateau Gahan to my booth, staged lovingly. As items were sold, the antique mall employees would tell me stories about who bought them and why. It warmed my heart. 

I continue to curate the rooms of Chateau Gahan, limited only by the square footage of my booth and how quickly items sell. It's been fun and freeing. My big fear of the house looking empty and cold was unfounded. If anything, there's more focus on the things that I've kept. Plus, there's less to dust. I approached my purging of possessions in this way: If I had to move tomorrow and were faced with the horrendous chore of boxing up everything I own, what would I take with me? Seems harsh, but this new mindset has taken my contentment to a whole new level. AND, I made another huge advance this weekend — I pulled a bunch of items out of my booth that haven't sold since September, and boxed them up to take to the thrift store. I know!!!! Who am I???!?!?!??!?!?

Once I had a taste of how good it felt to whittle down my possessions, I turned to other areas of my life in need of simplifying. I take great pride in being organized and detail-oriented, but upon closer inspection, my method of organizing was in MAJOR need of an overhaul. I used my iPhone Notes sporadically to keep track of tasks / to dos. I used a 5 x 7" three-ring day planner for my calendar. And I was in a dysfunctional, five-plus-year love affair with ruled notebook paper to keep lists. This all had to end. And so I went on a search for the perfect day planner. One that would 1) be smaller, 2) have a section devoted to monthly calendar pages, 3) have a page devoted to each day of the year, and 4) not have pockets and sleeves galore (which I tend to fill with "stuff").  Well, it took me a "trip" to Korea to find perfection. This Smiley Diary, purchased on Amazon, is the bomb diggity. I adore everything about it. Since it came from Korea, I had to fill-in all the holidays in the calendar section, but if this was the only down side, who cares. It has changed my life. No more iPhone Notes (at least for tasks and to dos). No more stray sheets of paper. This day planner makes me Smiley indeed.

Hungry for more simplification, I took an entire afternoon one Saturday and cleaned out my personal files (house records, billing records, etc.) and shed a good 100 pounds of paper.

I cleaned out the contents of my purse, giving the wallet a good once-over and weaning myself of a make-up case of items I hardly ever used. And I bought a new purse that's less satchel (which always felt like a catch-all, bottomless tote) and graduated to a messenger bag, flatter and more suited to everything having its place. 

And as far as the literal cleaning of my home, I now tackle cleaning in little snippets, rather than devoting an entire, seemingly endless, weekend day facing a mess (and then feeling resentful because I'd lost a day of my precious weekend).

Here's to the simple life!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

L Is For The Way You Look At Me

Valentine's Day has become a gimme on the list of celebrations here at Unboundary.
For 2014, I wanted to do a hanging installation of candy hearts. 
The snow and ice thwarted the initial effort to hang them at the windowed entrance to the office,
but gave way to a better option: to hang them around the party venue 
(thank you, Jessie, for your vision!).
Large hearts showcased our names, and medium-sized and smaller hearts 
carried the usual candy-heart sentiments.
[Google seemed to be on the same candy heart bandwagon with their Valentine's Day homepage!]

Here's the party.
Wine, good food, and opening our Valentine cards . . .
it's a holiday, smack dab in the middle of dreary winter, 
that warms the soul like a summer sky.

[Photo credit: Tod Martin]

I really struggled with my Valentine cards this year.
Typically, I'd have them done by end of January, but the creativity just wasn't flowing, and it was approaching the week before the big day.
I brainstormed while browsing Pinterest, I lay in bed at night hoping a dream would 
jolt me awake with "the idea", I locked myself in my craft room and glued, bejeweled and trimmed with no outcome worth salvaging, much less gifting to my coworkers.
Then I remembered the quotes I had incorporated into a going-away event for our pastor. 
Done and done.
I went online and found all kinds of quotes about love.
I collected 24 of them, 2 for each coworker, 
and totally got into figuring out who would get which quotes.

I printed out the quotes on a nice matte-finish ivory stock. Cut them out.
Then sewed them onto fabric. Cut the fabric with pinking sheers so that it peeked out from the card.
I opted for a pretty pink floral and a primitive leaf pattern in black and blue/gray.

I tucked one-of-each-fabric quote into a glassine sleeve; 
for the girls I put the floral on top, and for the guys, the blue leaf.
Folded the envelope, and under the flap taped an ivory satin ribbon 
stamped with the recipient's name.
Then sealed the envelope with a printed circle "Happy Valentine's Day! Dawn E. girl"

For my card-collecting vessel this year (last year I used a vintage mailbox), I went with 
an IKEA planter tied with a pink ribbon and a glass heart-shaped charm.

The love didn't stop at the Valentine's Party! With Harleigh home for the weekend (a camp commitment helping with interviews), we were able to also celebrate her birthday! She turns 22 this Thursday. I got her a Betty Crocker cookbook. I don't care that she'll use her smartphone (googling, Pinterest, etc.) for finding recipes and looking up cooking tips; everyone needs this book on a kitchen shelf. I still refer to mine!

Since she's so smitten with lambs, I decided to get her something sheep-related and frivolous and adorable, something that she'd never get for herself. I found this resin lamb online. It's sort of like my ceramic Old English Sheepdog that has no use, but that I'd never part with.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The First Time I've Fallen In Love With An Olympic Uniform

Here's the blurb from Snowboarder Magazine:

To design the uniform for the 2014 Sochi Games, Burton once again turned to America’s heritage for inspiration. And nothing represents Americana more than handcrafted patchwork quilts and the American flag, which are both at the heart of the 2014 uniform. After a long hunt, Burton designers found the perfect vintage quilt at an antique fair. Then, they brought it home to Vermont where it was deconstructed and re-constructed by a veteran Vermont quilt maker in order to get it ready to replicate onto the outerwear fabrics. Following this, Burton developed a method to print exact replicas of both the quilt and a vintage American flag onto the fabric of the jackets. The end result is that the quilt pattern on the jackets looks like it was hand-stitched with patchwork squares – just like the original. And an exact duplicate of the vintage American flag is proudly featured on the jacket’s sleeve.

How can you not love this?!?!?!? Hats off, Burton. Job well done.


Our office Valentine's Day party is this Friday. Am working with Jessie to do an installation. She'll be leaving us on the 21st for a new job in Austin, and I'll miss having her help in all things event-related here at Unboundary. [She and I were quite the creative duo for last year's Feast.]

For the 2014 Valentine party, I'm going a bit kitschy.
And what says Valentine's Day better than a naked baby holding silk flowers?
(I can't even pass him off for a cherub; no wings on this little dude.)
Found him recently and could not pass him up.

This next treasure has an interesting story. Was at Simple Finds this past Sunday (the antique mall where I have a booth), and one of the booth vendors, Candy, was talking about two houses down the street heading for demolition within the week. She was given carte blanche to go into both and take whatever she wanted. She encouraged me to drop by. I've never done this sort of thing before; was definitely intrigued, and so I hopped in the car and headed over, not knowing what to expect.

The first house I went into had been used as a halfway house. A modest brick rancher pretty beaten up and trashed. Random furniture throughout, but none worth taking. There were some sweet wooden shutters in both bathrooms, but I have tons of shutters at home and wasn't up for grabbing my tools and disassembling them.

The second house, while in equal disarray, had a grandmotherly charm. Lots of vintage wallpapers and heavily silk-draped windows. Candy and her husband, and a handful of day laborers were finishing up a second truckload worth of goodies when I arrived. While I didn't see the first load they had taken, what was left to be loaded was a worthy stash. French doors with glass doorknobs. A crystal chandelier. Ceiling lamp fixtures with painted shades. Old wooden doors from a shed out back. Furniture. A ton of great items that would have been razed, but would now find good homes.

While I did find it all heart-racingly exciting (sorta like chancing on a yard sale selling everything you love), there was a sadness to it. Lots of memorabilia left behind. Family pictures, swim team ribbons, letters and paperwork. We moved through the house with reverence and purpose; items were carried out as if they were bodies of loved ones, gently removed from the rubble of war. What came home with me seemed to have a soul. 

I wish I'd had the right tools with me: the wooden mantles and scalloped trim in the kitchen were priceless. But I hadn't' the time, and so I took what would fit into the back of the SUV. Two mirrors, one of the distressed and chippy shed doors, and this folding door from a small hall closet. I nestled it behind my server in the living room. The bottom part of the door, solid unlike the spindle-top, does a nice job of hiding electrical cords.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Lots to Love

Let's begin with a visit to see Parker Grey Wittorf.
We couldn't get enough of this little man.

Harleigh has found a new passion: watercolors.
She finds it relaxing, and is creating Valentine cards.
The creativity gene lives on!
So proud of her.
[She sent me these pix via message; I love the mason jar of flowers!!]

I moved to a bigger booth at the antique mall (Simple Finds), and I'm loving it!
Much more space for furniture (which is selling like hotcakes!!!!).
One of the Simple Finds employees told me that Vern Yip 
(from TLC Trading Spaces and HGTV Design Star) was in a few weeks ago,
and loved my scrapbook paper folding screen (see below).
Well, if that didn't feel good.

I've been stocking up the booth with lots of Valentine's Day crafts.
Have raided my Candy Spelling gift closet for little gift boxes to wrap and decorate.

The two images below are of a vintage Valentine's Day chocolate box 
that I turned into hanging decor for a wall or door.
It's reversible, too!
[Forgive the mediocre iPhone photos.]

These primitive, hanging heart shapes got some fabric backing, flowers and ribbons.

Labor of love:
For her church, my mom is co-chairing a Mardi Gras event for their women's club.
For decor, I suggested a beaded chandelier to go over the food table.
This was a bear to make (attaching the cardboard sleeve to the hula hoop 
and creating two level tiers was a be-atch),
but we did it — in 4 hours! And it looks spectacular.

And who doesn't love this guy. 
Always underfoot.

My little Ferdinand the Bull.
Asleep in a cool clump of monkey grass.

A tilt of his head when I ask if he wants a cookie.
I love this dog.

Asleep. Adorable.

He loved the snow we had.

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