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Archive for October 2015

go . Dinner in Restored Gulf Port

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I’ve been organizing some photographs lately, and it’s been a nice little inspirational escape in what has been a pretty busy Fall season. Between photos from our trip through the Gulf Coast this summer and the crazy number I took during our visit to Memphis last weekend, I am awash in some of the semi-local sights! I’m planning to share several posts over the next couple of weeks with some of my favorite memories, places to see, and happy accidents, so I hope you’ll stay tuned. And, let me know your favorite spots in some of these Southern towns!

While we were in Gulf Port, Mississippi this summer, it was very nice to get to walk around some of their restored downtown for dinner one evening. The area won several 2015 Mississippi Main Street awards, and of course, I enjoyed snapping a few of the details. Many of the old buildings remained vacant after the devastation of Katrina, and it was really neat to see the area coming back to life. As I’ve written, this was our first trip to the Coast since Katrina, and the resilience of Mississippians there is so, so evident in all the rebuilding that’s been accomplished. As difficult as it was to see so much changed, I suppose that change and the new things happening were also the most encouraging as well.

We were in Gulf Port in July and had dinner at the Half Shell Oyster House, located in the historic Kremer Building. We happened to be there on the Fourth, and we were able to watch fireworks being launched from the beach while we waited for our table and explored the corner of 13th and Highway 49. We got to see a few of the building details, revitalized street lighting, tree plantings and brick work, and the awesome corner neon sign — a wonderful vintage throwback. Inside, the restaurant had a great French Quarter look with brick walls, two levels, wrought iron and a colorful mural. The kids enjoyed drawing the wrought iron patterns on our table covering, and everyone found a favorite to eat. My favorite was the Bacon and Pecan Crusted Redfish topped with orange beurre blanc — the best meal of the 10-day trip! Enjoy a few glimpses, and be sure to try it out when you’re in the Gulf Port area…

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celebrate . Autumn in our Corners

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It’s beginning to look like Fall! It’s even beginning to feel like Fall — especially in the mornings! This is probably my favorite time of year, and I love having small bits of autumn celebration tucked into various corners around the house. We make a production out of getting our “decorations” out of the attic, and I love that the kids know where things are “supposed” to go. They’re getting older, but I still see that gleam in their eye when they see little jack-o-lanterns, pumpkins they made in preschool, and scarecrows. We pull out some of our nature artifacts — feathers and “horse apples” from the farm, driftwood from the coast, cotton bolls from the pumpkin patch — and combine them with trinkets from past years, and hand-crafted items we’ve found in the Smoky Mountains. Dollar store finds from this year mix with dime store items from when I was a child and parts of costumes my mom made for me to wear. I guess those are “vintage” now — ha! We’ve been decked out for fall for a few weeks and will enjoy the warmth and inspiration through Thanksgiving. Here are a few glimpses of our autumn corners. Enjoy!

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make . Paper Pumpkins

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Last week I spent a little time restocking my Small Pond “pop-up” shop with some fall items and a new collection of stationery. The pop-up is located in the Liza Tye & Company shopping mall on Academy Road in Starkville, and I hope you’ll take a few minutes to take a look and shop all the great vendors there if you are in the area! Some of the fall items I included are a couple of paper craft pumpkin centerpieces I created from hand-decorated paper, and today I’m sharing a little of the process. They are not difficult to make at home, and are a great way to repurpose already-used paper.

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I found a few colored sheets of paper in various textures, and hand-painted some with patterns. Card stock weight paper works best for what’s required for crafting this piece.

The pattern for the individual pumpkin parts can really be any shape you want, as long as it’s symmetrical. Creating your pattern along a fold helps to ensure it is identical on both sides. For the two sizes of pumpkins shown above, I used 20 pumpkin shapes for the larger 8 1/2″ centerpiece, and 16 pumpkin shapes for the smaller 5″ version. Each pumpkin shape needs to be folded in half to create the centerpiece.

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Once all the paper parts are cut and folded, they are stacked together in the repetitive order you would like to use for your pumpkin. Tie the shapes together tightly with twine at the center point to hold them all together. I chose a small jute twine that could curl around the pumpkin top like tiny vines.

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Hot glue or some other very quick-drying version works best for this project since the pieces will end up fanning out into a sphere like an accordion. For the best fanning look, I alternated gluing tops together and then bottoms of the pumpkins as shown above. Keep going all the way through the stack until the piece forms a full pumpkin.

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Pumpkin definitely needs leaves and vines, which I cut from one of my paper colors. Card stock can be easily spiraled by twisting it around a pencil. To finish out the pumpkin, I used a square of thin, kraft packing material to form the stem. I wadded up the paper first to crinkle it, and then rolled it into a loose tube and twisted for an organic look.

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Make a slit in the bottom of the “stem” and hot glue to the top of the pumpkin. Then, add leaves and vines to suit your tastes.

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For our Thanksgiving table, I’m working on a version of the pumpkins made from all white and off-white paper, some in hand-made flower petal-infused paper I found. I’m hoping to add a little hand-dipped watercoloring for some subtle harvest look. There are so many options for decorating paper to match any tablescape style — from fun craftiness to artisan elegance. You can purchase the pumpkins at Liza Tye or create some of your own!

Happy pumpkin-making!

favorite colors 101415 . Alley

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We’re heading to Memphis for a long weekend and some Cinderella fun on Friday, and I was digging through a few photos from past trips. Aside from the ones with my three cuties, I think this may be my favorite Memphis shot! I love the slices of light taller buildings provide on downtown streets — the colors, the shadows, the patterns formed by overlapping window grids. Does every mid-size urban downtown in America have Deco details? This one is so warm, even though I kind of remember the day being cold.  It inspired today’s favorite colors — a mix of warm and cool, blacks and browns, the blend of neutral tones.

sojourn . Glimpses of Fall Break at Busy Bee

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We were very excited to spend part of last week at our family’s farm land for the children’s Fall Break. We enjoyed many of our usual farm activities, and I thought I would share a few inspiring thoughts and views discovered there. We aren’t usually at the farm until later in the fall, so this time we had the chance to see a nice mix of summer and autumn as well as a few wild flowers and plants we don’t often get to see.

We call the farm “Busy Bee” after an old African American church that was once located in the area. It may be just a name our family uses, but it’s stuck since I was a child. For this trip — and for the first time in a long time — I left my laptop at home and had a welcomed break from work activities. I didn’t even take my paints or sketch book, and I didn’t miss them! A true sign I was due for a mental break from creative activities.

We filled our days with down time, conversations, and walking in the pastures. We found a couple of new trees to climb, checked out the hay yard, walked the Southwest end of the property, and explored the Dry Creek bed (which was actually dry this time of year). It was a much needed change of scenery for me and for the kids, and in that void of deadlines and creative pursuits, I had the chance to let the whirling of thoughts and ideas in my mind settle. I came home with this small reminder written in my journal…

It’s hard to take the right steps forward if I am not disciplined to spend time listening to my own inner voice.

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fallbreak15g [pasture wildflowers we haven’t seen before]

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fallbreak15a [an honest to goodness tree bench discovered in the woods at the Southwest corner]

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