Two Novembers ago my dear friend Jessica and her husband came to visit us. Jessica has home decor style oozing out her very pores and so I naturally mentioned to her that I was stumped on what to hang above my desk in our office/music room/library. She suggested that I needed a colorful painting and showed me some floral pieces online by a favorite artist of hers that I loved but couldn’t even begin to afford. But Jess was completely unphased and said she’d painted a similar piece for her house…what colors did I like? She bet she could make me one. Barely 3 days after she got home, a gigantic package showed up on my front porch with a beautiful and bright painting inside. I loved it and immediately hung it above my desk. It made me smile every day as I worked.
Ever since then, I have wanted to make some sort of whitewashed frame to make the happy painting pop even more against the chocolate brown walls. But as I’m sure many of you have experienced, it just sort of sat at the top of my “to do” list and never got done. Until I had the trifecta of perfect circumstances that made me put my intentions into action. First, I had a rare free afternoon. Second, Keith had a few yard projects he wanted to knock out so I was hunting for a DIY to do and third, we’d just gotten some Hatch Show Prints framed on sale at Michael’s so we were in the picture-hanging mood.
I knew that I wanted something with a slightly whitewashed appearance. Something similar to when my friend Amy and I made a decorative shelf for her bathroom. I also really love the look of variegated planks (like on our chicken coop) so I decided that instead of doing a frame around the painting, I’d do one behind it out of slats of wood. I wanted something a little sleeker than palate wood and not as heavy as lumber, so I headed to Michael’s craft store and straight to the model-plane making aisle where I chose 6 slats of ultra-light weight Balsa wood. I got lucky because my painting was 20″ x 20″ and the Balsa wood slats were 4″ x 24″ inches which meant that 6 of them made a 24″ x 24″ square leaving 2 inches on each side of the painting. The boards were $3.49 each so with tax the wood for the project cost less than $25.
I laid out all the planks on a sheet of plastic and decided to go with a light grey paint instead of the minwax stain that I’d used on the shelf project as I felt like it complimented the white flower accents better than a stain would have. However, I diluted the paint with water to it wouldn’t be so thick and would give more of a stain appearance than a paint appearance. It worked really well and I painted all the boards with two thin coats.
The hardest part about the project by far was centering the boards on the back of the painting. I laid the painting face down and then measured the slats and the painting to make sure that all sides were equal. Then starting in the middle and working out, I nailed each slat to the wooden frame of the canvas using tiny tacks and a hammer. (Make sure your nails are tiny as balsa wood splits easily.) Then I attached a picture hanger to the back (we had one in the shed, but they are only a dollar or two if you have to buy one) and voila!
The Hatch prints we’d gotten framed (that I mentioned at the top of the post) were originally intended to be hung in our living room which has gotten a bit of a facelift as of late. But as seems to often happen with redecorating, hanging one print turned into an all-out fruit-basket-turnover of wall art throughout the house. While I loved having the painting from Jess above my desk, I also wanted it somewhere that everyone would see it…not hidden in my office. So we gave it a home on the most prominent wall in our living room where it will make everyone who comes through our doors smile. Hanging next to it is my Nickel Creek reunion tour Hatch Print from the Ryman show, while my Eucharisteo painting adorns the wall to the left and a wood-mounted photo of a piano by local photographer Eden Frangipane (it’s the first photo you see if you click here) hangs on the wall opposite. And our living room is now officially the happiest place to be. There are definitely perks to having wallflowers.
Whenever I run into one of the 5 people that actually read our blog, everyone always seems to comment that they love Mary-Hall’s recipes and DIY projects and my chicken posts. At a wedding a few weeks ago, one of Keith’s co-workers said, “please do another chicken post soon!” So to comply with that tidbit of free “market research,” I figured it was high time for another chicken post, since I haven’t done one since Sylvia died. And it’s perfect timing too since we’ve been talking about the Not Wedding Dinner Party Styled shoot all week…
All the vendors absolutely cracked up when they found about the chickens and the coop and then became sort of obsessed with them. We even incorporated the ladies into several of the shots…lured into doing pretty much anything with the help of a few dried worms. Since the ladies have already had their portraits painted, and won a photo contest, it seemed only logical that being included in a high-fashion, wedding-themed, professional-level photo shoot was the next progression in their path to fame and fortune. Our friend Hannah snapped some amazing photos that I thought I’d share with you here. So just scroll away and check out the captions.
The girls have also never met a stranger and love it when people stop by to see them which is a good thing because it seems to happen frequently. But when it comes to holding still for a picture, Beverly is the most patient with those not used to holding hens. Plus, she’s just so fluffy and yellow that it’s quite adorable. My favorite quote of all time is when a business contact of mine said, in the most serious tone ever, “Do you think Beverly Clucky KNOWS she’s the prettiest of all the chickens?” So here you go, just for fun, a few additional pictures of Beverly with the friends she’s made along the way. Oh, and one of Louisa, just for good measure.
You may remember the backyard dinner party shoot that took place at the yellow barn a few weeks ago. In addition to all the amazing vendors that created everything from set design and paper goods, to flower arrangements and cake pops, the makeup artist brought her singer/songwriter husband who also has a flair for mixology. I’m not much of a cocktail drinker, but Reuben’s peachy concoction was quite tasty, and when I realized that I could pass along a brand new recipe to you guys, I couldn’t resist posting our first, and most likely only, cocktail recipe. And be sure to check out www.reubenbidez.com and buy his music….think of it as a way to leave a tip.
-Peace in the Valley signature cocktail recipe-
1.5 oz Belle Meade Bourbon
.75 oz Lemon
.75 oz Honey
.5 oz Yellow Chartreuse
Shake and finely strain into a coupe
Garnish with 3 thinly sliced peaches***
***Of course, everything always tastes better with really fresh peaches. For this shoot, we shopped local with peaches from The Peach Truck. You can find the truck easily in the Nashville, TN area, on their Small Town Peach Tour, or by ordering online.
One of the things I most love about Nashville is the creative community and nontraditional work atmosphere that I’m surrounded by. So many people here are involved in the arts or events or some other occupation where work doesn’t mean sitting behind a desk from 8-5, which often leads to really interesting collaborations and projects.
When Keith and I got married just over four years ago, our dear friend Hannah Blanton (Hannah Elaine Photography) was an easy pick to hire as our wedding photographer. Not only is she a kind and fabulous individual, but her photos capture moments in an almost photo-journalistic way. We were thrilled with the images from our big day..all those special moments frozen forever…and my sweet friend Jessica even hired Hannah for her wedding the next year (a photo of Jess and all her bridesmaids is still the first photo that pops up when you click on Hannah’s page.)
Hannah and her husband John are often our partners in crime for everything from canoeing to improptu trips to the art museum (John was one of Keith’s roommates back in both of their bachelor days) so when she needed a shoot location (and a few “models”) Keith and I were game to offer up our backyard and gather a few friends. It wasn’t the first time that we’d had a wedding-related-backyard-dinner party: just a couple of years ago we hosted the wedding rehearsal dinner of our dear friends Bubba & Erin, so naturally we were thrilled that they could be part of this shoot! It was a sentimental nod to their big day and great to catch up. Hannah’s husband John and our good friend Keely sat in as “models” as well and the six of us had a blast sitting around our table in the backyard while Hannah snapped photos right and left.
I just thought I’d pass along some fun photos for you to enjoy…and I might have one or two more related posts up my sleeve in the coming days, so be sure to check back.
You can check out more images from the shoot on Hannah’s blog by clicking here. And check out our amazing vendors as well! They were all amazing to work with and the best at their craft. (I’m trying to come up with an excuse to hire Hayley to come make my face look pretty again.) And you don’t have to be getting married to use their services. They’d be happy to help you out with any type of party or gift needs.
Hayley Bidez Makeup Artistry – Model Hair and Makeup
Events by Elaine – Product Staging and Table Design
Caroline of Batch Nashville – Guest Party Favors
Maria & Green Bean Paper Co – Invitations, Name Cards
Mary Love & Rosemary & Finch – Floral Arrangements
The Bride Room – Girl’s dresses
Southern Events – Linen and Tableware Rentals
Frosted Affair – Cake and Cake Pops
Reuben Victor – “Peace in the Valley” Signature cocktail
One of the first things Keith and I did as newlyweds (well, besides go on our honeymoon) was buy new couches. I didn’t own a couch and his had been around for a while and we just felt it was time to update a bit as we sought to turn “his” house into “our house.” After checking out a few stores, we found some light blue microfiber couches at Rooms-To-Go that fit our taste and our budget. We bought the sofa and matching loveseat and I just couldn’t get past how pretty the robin’s-egg-blue looked in our newly painted front room. But after the remodel of our house a year later, we started to feel that the love seat and couch scenario wasn’t as practical for our new space. And while the couches aren’t uncomfortable, they also never turned into that sink-into-and-take-a-long-nap sort of coziness we kind of hoped they would one day soften into.
As we talked about what sort of couch we might like to one day have, the conversation turned to a sectional. It seemed like a great way to be able to snuggle on the couch together while still having enough room, provide additional seating, and best utilize the space in our now-much-larger living room. So the great sectional search began. And as with all furniture purchases in our house (you guys know the drill by now) I was looking to find exactly what I wanted at exactly the price I was willing to pay and would settle for no less than fulfilling both of those goals. (If this is your first time “furniture shopping” with me here on the blog, you can catch up on my find-what-you-like and then at-the-price-you-want style by checking out my posts on buying an ottoman and my dining set, a chair, and light fixture…just to get you started.)
After considering possibly every sectional ever created, Keith and I decided that the Pearce sectional from Pottery Barn was precisely what we needed. We loved the style, the dimensions were perfect (dimensions were tricky for us as everything seemed to either be too long or too short) and the price was, well, close. We knew that a sectional was going to be something we were going to save up for since giant pieces of well-made furniture don’t typically come cheap, but we also wanted to get the best price we could. So we waited. And window shopped the Pottery Barn store in the mall several times. And requested practically every free fabric swatch you can request on the PB website. Unfortunately for us, the clerk told us that the “oatmeal linen” upholstery that we loved had never gone on sale in her several-year tenure at the store…a fact supported by the three times the piece went on sale in other fabrics since we first looked at it about 2 years ago.
And then. Behold. One day as I was surfing the web, I clicked over to look at “my sectional” again for fun and the oatmeal linen was on sale!!! I couldn’t believe it. Keith and I decided that maybe it was time to pull the trigger on our big purchase. But when we added the couch to the online cart, it showed a $125 “large item” delivery surcharge on top of the normal taxes and fees that get added on at the end. So we called the Pottery Barn store about 20 minutes away to see if we could waive the fee. Not only did the store offer to match the online sale price, but they added on some mysterious discount to erase the $125 delivery fee that ended up discounting it even further. A win all the way around!
We sold our other couches on Craigslist for exactly what we were asking for them (the girl who bought them was positively delighted and kept saying, “but they look NEW!”) and the sectional was delivered last Thursday….just in time for me to hit the Memorial Day sales this weekend to grab some new throw pillows. And I can for sure say that it’s everything we hoped it would be and more. It’s comfy, it brightens up the room, we can both curl up without anyone’s elbow in the other person’s ribcage. It’s lovely. And it could probably sleep a person or two as well if anyone needed to crash.
And I promise, next week I’ll blog about something that has nothing to do with furniture. Probably.
By now, you’ve probably realized that I can’t keep anything the same for too long when it comes to furniture. I love swapping out items for something cuter and more functional, particularly if I can get it at a bargain. But my quest for something new doesn’t always mean actually NEW….just new whatever place in the house needs something different. In fact, some of my most favorite pieces in our home are old, like a dresser that I’ve been using since just after college. It was my grandfather’s dresser when I was a kid and sometimes I expect to find his clean white hankies carefully folded in the top left-hand drawer when I open it.
But as all you married folks out there know, one dresser, no matter how fabulous, is not enough for two people. We’ve been on the hunt for a second dresser for a while now, limping along with a cool, but impractically designed inside, chifferobe that I bought at an antique store for cheap in college. The problem was that we loved my grandfather’s dresser so much that we didn’t want to give that up, but finding something that matched was impossible and even something that merely complimented it was proving a monumental task. I was about to just throw in the towel and buy a dresser, any old dresser, just to be able to put my laundry away.
A few weeks ago when Keith and I were in Mississippi helping with the garage sale at my grandmother’s house, my mom was trying to figure out what to do with the “good furniture.” We’d been able to sell anything that lacked sentimental or actual value, but there were several pieces remaining in the living room that were legitimately antique, were still in fabulous shape, and that quite frankly, no one could bear to part with because there were just too many memories attached. We were able to make space in my parent’s house for a couple of them by rearranging and selling a bookshelf of my mom’s, and several things were earmarked to go to my uncle’s apartment, but a few pieces still needed a place including a beautiful buffet that has been in my grandparent’s dining room as long as I can remember. It had been given to them by my great-grandmother who had used it in her house, so while I’m not sure exactly how old it is, I’m thinking that 75 years or so at least is a safe estimate.
And then it hit me. Just because it was intended to house dishes and silverware, china and goblets, didn’t mean it couldn’t be the perfect home for socks and t-shirts and running clothes. And while my grandmother always adorned the top with a teapot and tea cozy year round and tins upon tins of pecan sandies and other cookies at Christmas, that didn’t mean I couldn’t set all my perfume bottles and jewelry out on an old mirror. I bought some dark wood Old English scratch cover and polish, gave it a loving coat, and I’m really pleased with how it turned out. And love that not only is it practical, but it’s a little piece of history as well.
The other day, my parents were passing through town and we popped over to see my boss’ garden. There’s lettuce galore right now along with other leafy greens and the beginnings of other things, but what I was particularly enamored with was her asparagus bed. It wasn’t but just a few years ago that I hated asparagus, and now I can proudly say that I’ve eaten it 3 times this week and just writing about it makes me crave some more (and I just had it like an hour ago.) I bent low to admire these little asparaguses (asparagi?) popping out of the ground while mom picked lettuce and Dad and Kelly discussed the trials of getting a good crop of tomatoes.
My friend Erin will attest to the fact that cooking asparagus in the Bordeaux kitchen has often been synonymous with setting off every smoke alarm in the house. No matter what we tried, it seemed that it never cooked super well (either too tough or too burned) and we’d have to open all the windows and fan the smoke away from the detector. Then one day, quite out of laziness, I hit upon the perfect way to cook it. I’d bought some fish from Whole Foods that needed to be cooked for 20 minutes at 400 degrees in the oven, and since I didn’t want either the main dish or the side dish to get cold while the other cooked, I decided to just throw it all in there at the same time and crossed my fingers. The result was delicious and I’ll never cook it another way again. So if you’re looking for a quick and easy way to make an impressive and healthy side dish, I bring you this “recipe” if you can call it that.
*1 bunch of asparagus
*about 3 teaspoons of olive oil
*ground sea salt
*ground pepper mixture
1. preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. Rinse off asparagus
3. Cut about half an inch off the bottom of the stalks and throw the tiny pieces away (the end with out the fluffy part.)
4. lay all the asparagus out on a cookie sheet….the kind with a lip (otherwise it’ll all roll off and that would be a pain.)
5. lightly brush the asparagus with the olive oil using a pastry brush (silicone or bristles…either is fine) until there is a light coating of oil over all the stalks. (This is the key step. Just a thin coat. Brush, don’t pour.)
6. sprinkle salt and pepper to taste over all stalks.
7. bake in the oven at 400 for 20 minutes.